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Belgium in Brief: Flanders Faces Facts

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Yesterday, we spoke about how Flanders was facing criticism for a lack of action regarding coronavirus measures. Today, it’s time to talk about Flanders facing up to facts.

Since the weekend, Flanders had fallen behind the rest of the country, with Brussels and Wallonia stepping up measures as numbers continue to rise, while no such move came from the region. This, however, looks likely to change quickly as the Flemish region sprints to catch up.

The Flemish government has organised an additional ministerial council today at 6:00 PM to decide on possible additional coronavirus measures, Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon announced on Monday.

While it’s not entirely clear what will change, looking at the comments from the rest of the country there is a reasonable expectation that the curfew will change, alongside rules concerning sports. For a recap of what could happen, click here.

If not, we’ll be here with the latest news once it’s known.

So, while we wait for that, let’s have a look at the news – which casts a whole new light on how to interpret the curfew in Belgium, to say the least.

Belgium in Brief is a free daily roundup of the top stories to get you through your lunch break conversations. To receive it straight to your inbox every day, sign up below:

1. Flanders to announce new measures: what’s expected

As Flanders prepares to discuss new measures as numbers continue to rise, here’s what could change.

2. Brussels’ homeless given pass to explain curfew breaking

Homeless people in the streets of Brussels will now be given a ‘certificate of non-housing’ to prove they cannot obey the rules of the curfew currently in force across the country.

The certificates will be distributed by field workers, mobile teams and even the emergency services of the Sint-Jan and Sint-Pieters hospitals, according to an announcement by Christophe Thielens, the spokesperson of the Samusocial aid organisation. Read more.

3. Belgium’s coronavirus curfews are unconstitutional, VUB scholars say

Belgian authorities’ move to impose a curfew in efforts to rein in soaring rates of new coronavirus infections is unconstitutional, according to two scholars at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB).

Through an initiative dubbed ‘Geen vodje papier,‘ (Dutch for ‘Not a mere scrap of paper’), in reference to the constitution, Karin Verelst, a doctor in philosophy, and Jan De Groote, a legal expert, said the curfews “raise eyebrows” as they are in direct and explicit conflict with the country’s constitution. Read more.

4. ‘Out of control’: Belgian rail urged to better manage passenger flows

Belgium’s national railway company is facing calls to come up with a coronavirus plan capable of preventing overcrowding on trains and platforms.

Tomas Roggeman, a lawmaker with Flemish nationalist N-VA party, said that recent incidents of overcrowding captured on photo or video and circulated on social media showed that train operator SNCB/NMBS needed to double down on enforcing social-distancing. Read more.

5. Telework is not mandatory in Brussels, but remains ‘the norm’

Teleworking is not compulsory but remains the norm in Brussels, a business organisation said after confusion emerged that work rules had been tightened further in Brussels than in the rest of the country. Read more.

6. Belgium breaks average of 13,000 coronavirus cases per day

An average of over 13,000 people tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) per day over the past week in Belgium, as hospitalisation figures and deaths keep rising, according to Sciensano’s latest figures on Tuesday.

Between 17 and 23 October, an average of 13,052 new people tested positive per day, which is an increase of 38% compared to the week before. On 20 October, more than 18,500 infections were confirmed. Read more.

7. Coronavirus: Brussels nears average of 100 daily hospitalisations

The number of coronavirus hospitalisations is rising in Brussels and reached an average of nearly 100 daily new admissions, according to the latest figures on Tuesday. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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