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Belgium in Brief: Forgetting Trump

Credit: Belga

With Coronavirus, Brexit, Belgian elections, lockdown and more, we could honestly all be forgiven for focusing on the things a little closer to home for the past months.

This week, however, someone mentioned the election and it’s almost like we collectively realised we haven’t been talking about Trump enough.

Belgian news exploded with hot takes, predictions and live blogs. Eurobubble social media became inundated with the same, alongside selfies of people scrolling through Twitter all night, possibly with a drink in hand.

Currently, however, we still don’t know who is going to win – even if Trump and a few others seem to have already decided that for us.

So today, we won’t talk about the fact hospitalisations are rising, Uber’s expansion into Flanders, Jackals in the country or Thalys halting services.

Who are we kidding, of course we will.

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. Basics for EU: When will we know the new US President?

Since the first in-person votes were cast in the early hours of Tuesday the United States officially went to the polls to decide whether to re-elect President Donald Trump or to send former vice-President Joe Biden back to the White House.

As the American elections were perhaps slightly pushed to the side on the international stage by the ongoing coronavirus, many Europeans could be forgiven for just starting to follow the election now as we enter into the final stages.

A passive follower might think they’d need a huge amount of information get up to speed with the vote, but we have you covered.

2. City of Brussels officially cancels Winter Wonders this year

On Tuesday, the City of Brussels officially announced that this year’s edition of its Christmas “Winter Wonders” event would not take place due to the coronavirus restrictions.

“Although the City of Brussels is aware of the considerable economic impact of this decision, it has no choice but to cancel Belgium’s largest Christmas market in order to limit the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the Brussels’ aldermen for Culture, Tourism and Major Events, and Economic Affairs stated in a press release. Read More.

3. Belgium’s new Covid-19 cases decrease, but hospitalisations continue to rise

The number of additional people who tested positive for the coronavirus in Belgium started to decrease over the past week, but the hospitalisations continue to rise, according to Sciensano’s latest figures on Wednesday.

Between 25 and 31 October, an average of 14,235.4 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a decrease of 4% compared to the week before. Read more.

4. Uber available in Flanders from next week

Ride-hailing company Uber is continuing its expansion in Belgium and has announced it will be available in the country’s Flemish region from next week.

Users in Flanders will be able to catch an Uber ride from 9 November as the American company consolidates plans to grow its market in the country despite resistance from taxi unions.

The highest concentration of drivers will be located in major cities of the Dutch-speaking region such as Antwerp, Ghent and the small university city of Leuven. Read more.

5. Wildlife in Flanders: After the wolf, comes the jackal

In a very short space of time, news about the wolves in Flanders has become a commonplace. Now say hello to the golden jackal.

“We don’t know when exactly this mini-wolf will arrive here, but it will come,” wildlife experts told the VRT.

The golden jackal (Canis aureus) is a member of the dog family, and a relative of the wolf, whose usual habitat is in south-east Europe as well as Asia. A social animal based around the family unit, it is largely omnivorous, with a preference for small animals including domestic poultry. Read more.

6. Attacked Brussels priest: ‘no terrorist context’, church assures

Reports of an attack on a priest in the church of Saint Gilles in Brussels on Monday have been blown out of proportion, according to the archdiocese overseeing the churches in the Brussels-Mechelen area.

On Monday around 5:30 PM, a man entered the church of Saint-Gilles, and behaved aggressively toward the priest, according to the Brussels-South police zone.

This story quickly made headlines across the country following reports that the man grabbed the priest’s clothes, pushed him, threatened to hit him, and also threw a chair at him, reports Bruzz. The man reportedly also said he was Muslim, before fleeing on foot, according to local media. According to the church, however, it is important not to blow this out of proportion. Read more.

7. Thalys suspends trains between Brussels and Germany

High-speed train operator Thalys will suspend services between Brussels and Germany as well as its Izy trains between Brussels and Paris, the rail operator announced on Wednesday.

This move – which goes into effect on Saturday 7 November and lasts until 12 December inclusive – is the company’s response to the effect of the continuing coronavirus crisis on transport, and the measures taken by countries. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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