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Belgium in Brief: SNOw Way?

If you woke up this morning to the startling revelation that 2020 is almost over, you’re certainly not the only one.

You could be forgiven for losing track of the date, the month, or even the year in the current circumstances, and it’s certainly understandable to be shocked we’re almost in December.

Generally, come mid-November, trips home are booked for the substantial expat population. Not this year. While some are looking to last the quarantine in their relative countries, others have already decided they’ll be staying where they are.

For me, it was the news of the first snow of the season that made it all hit home. Forecasts from yesterday say that an influx of icy weather could see snow flurries hit parts of the country at the weekend.

The Royal Meteorological Institute (IRM/KMI) said temperatures are expected to drop to 5ºC during the week and hit a low of around 3ºC at the weekend.

Temperatures are expected to begin dropping on Friday and even plummet to 2ºC in the highest points of the Ardennes, as cold weather sweeps the inland region.

So, warmest sweaters out of the closet, let’s look at the news in Belgium today.

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. Little chance bars and restaurants will reopen this year, expert warns

The reopening of Belgium’s bars and restaurants is unlikely this year, biostatistician Niel Hens warned amid discussions about the end of the coronavirus lockdown.

“We know that pubs and restaurants are a high-risk environment. That has nothing to do with people in the hospitality industry because they do their best, but it is a meeting place,” Hens explained to VRT. Read More.

2. Free, but not mandatory: What we know about Belgium’s vaccine plan

With the spreading news of the progress of vaccines and a lack of news on the end of lockdowns, the topic on everyone’s mind at the moment is how this vaccine will work.

Short answer, it’s not clear yet.

Long answer, we’re getting there.

Full answer, click here.

3. Over 13,000 coronavirus sanctions handed out in Brussels

Police in Brussels has handed out over 13,000 sanctions for coronavirus rules violations since the start of the first lockdown.

Brussels City Mayor Philippe Close said on Monday that the Brussels-Ixelles police zone had dished out 9,891 reports or citations.

Additionally, the police drew up 3,346 SAC/GAS sanctions, a type of sanctions handed out by municipalities to residents above the age of 14 who have “committed an incivility,” which can lead to a fine. Read more.

4. Brussels will set up giant Christmas tree on Thursday

Brussels will set up its traditional Christmas tree into the capital’s main square this week, city officials announced on Monday.

The City of Brussels said the tree will be freighted into the capital from the Ardennes region and set up in the Grand-Place on Thursday. Read More.

5. Non-essential shops want to sell on appointment

Non-essential shops want to be able to allow customers to visit the shop by appointment in order for their businesses to survive, sector federations said on Tuesday in Le Soir.

The “Click & collect” system that shops have resorted to is insufficient to allow businesses to survive, the federations said.

Non-essential shop chains are losing €100 million in turnover every day due to the government’s lockdown measures which has seen non-essential shops close, according to an estimation by Comeos, the federation of organised commerce. Read More.

6. Coronavirus: real-estate viewings allowed, but only unaccompanied

Belgium’s interior minister has brought clarity to the real estate market following confusion over how to organise property viewings amid the country’s coronavirus restrictions.

Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden has said that on-site visits can still go forward but only if they are unaccompanied, with only the prospective future occupants allowed inside. Read more.

7. Wallonia launches public consultation for post-Covid recovery plan

Wallonia is launching a five-week public consultation planned as part of its Get up Wallonia recovery plan to allow each citizen to put forward his or her own proposals for the post-covid period.

People can contribute via this platform or by completing a questionnaire available in the municipal administrations and in the so-called Espaces Wallonie. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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