Belgium in Brief: Flanders Catches Up 

Belgium in Brief: Flanders Catches Up 
Credit: Belga

Another late-night meeting - though thankfully not too late night - has left us with a whole new set of measures to sift through, and a whole new set of reactions from experts across the country.

Following in the footsteps of Wallonia and Brussels, Flanders will increase measures across the region in an effort to fight back against the spread of coronavirus in the country as a whole. The new measures, which have to go into effect by 6:00 PM on Friday, mean that all three regions of Belgium have introduced extra restrictions for higher education, and the culture and sports sector.

However, curfew was where the approaches differ. While Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital Region also extended the curfew – now from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM -, Flanders stuck with the federal measure, from midnight to 5:00 AM.

Speaking on Tuesday, Jambon warned of the need for personal responsibility to avoid a lockdown. “The days of nonchalant behaviour are long behind us. Everyone must now behave responsibly. Otherwise, we are heading for a new lockdown.”

But if you thought this was the last meeting which could bring about big change in the country, you would certainly be mistaken. The next meeting of Belgium’s coronavirus Consultative Committee, you see, will take place on Friday afternoon, with current measures and bar closures expected to be on the agenda.

With that in mind, let's see what you might have missed.

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1. New Flemish measures ‘much too late,’ expert warns

The new coronavirus fighting measures announced by the Flemish government on Tuesday evening should have happened weeks ago, according to infectious disease expert Erika Vlieghe.

“We are very late. But as far as I’m concerned, I’m happy with every measure that’s been taken. And let’s hope it has an effect. Although I would have preferred to see it a few weeks earlier,” Vlieghe told Radio 1 on Wednesday morning. Read more.

2. ‘No time to waste’: Flemish mayors tighten coronavirus rules early

Several mayors in Flanders are beating the regional government to the punch and advancing the entry into force of stricter coronavirus measures, saying there is no time to waste.

So far, the mayors of Ghent, Aarschot, Mechelen and Vilvoorde have all broken ranks with the regional government, saying they will not wait until Friday for the new restrictions to come into force. Read more.

3. Belgian average rises to almost 14,000 coronavirus cases per day

An average of almost 14,000 additional people tested positive for the coronavirus over the past week in Belgium, as hospitalisations and deaths continue to rise, according to Sciensano’s latest figures on Wednesday.

Between 18 and 24 October, an average of 13,858 new people tested positive per day, which is an increase of 40% compared to the week before. On Tuesday 20 October, more than 18,500 infections were confirmed. Read more.

4. Flanders further tightens federal coronavirus measures

Flanders is further tightening the federal measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus in the Region, announced Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon during a press conference on Tuesday evening.

Some new measures are in line with the rest of the country, some not at all, for the full list click here.

5. This is a ‘partial lockdown,’ says Marc Van Ranst

Belgium is in partial lockdown now, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst, taking into account the measures announced by Belgium’s different regions.

“When you look at the whole package – not only in Flanders, but also in Brussels and Wallonia – you have to say that we are in a partial lockdown,” Van Ranst said on VTM News after the Flemish government announced the latest coronavirus restrictions. Read more.

6. Belgian publisher destroys 7,000 Zwarte Piet books

Belgian publisher Clavis has decided to destroy the 7,000 books they still had in stock with texts about or images of Zwarte Piet (which translates as Black Pete).

Some other books were reworked with new drawings and ‘Zwarte Piet’ was consistently changed to just ‘Piet’ (which translates as Pete). Read more.

7. Weather report: Belgium faces 80km/h winds on Wednesday

Belgium’s Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) has issued a code yellow, anticipating gusts of wind of 70 to 80 kilometres per hour from Wednesday afternoon until the end of the night.

The wind could become even stronger in the event of showers or thunderstorms. Read more.

Jules Johnston

The Brussels Times

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