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Belgium in Brief: What If People Ignore The Rules?

The latest findings from Belgium’s coronavirus study have reported that a startling number of 18-35-year-olds are considering breaking coronavirus rules this Christmas to celebrate with a bigger group than allowed.

Despite strict coronavirus lockdown rules, 41% of those asked said they were considering gathering in a bigger group than was allowed, regardless of urgent pleas by Government and healthcare bodies to keep groups as small as possible in order to prevent a third wave.

But what about those people from a different country staying in Belgium rather than going home. That very age bracket is often the one too young to have a family of their own, meaning their option of marking a very family orientated time of year is at the very best 2 people, or perhaps even alone.

As we approach a week until the measures will be discussed again, people begin to push more and more for some clarity on how the end of the year could look.

Now, here’s the news.

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. Coronavirus hospitalisations drop for third day in a row

All of Belgium’s coronavirus infection figures are continuing to drop, according to Sciensano’s latest figures published on Friday.

Between 10 and 16 November, an average of 4,353 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 37% decrease compared to the week before.

The total number of confirmed cases in Belgium since the beginning of the pandemic is 550,264. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected, and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died as a result of the virus. Read More.

2. ‘Belgian Mr Bean’: state secretary ridiculed over ‘incomprehensible’ Dutch

First-time Federal State Secretary Mathieu Michel is making a splash over his general policy note presentation, with criticism of its contents upstaged by what some have called Michel’s “incomprehensible” spoken Dutch.

Lawmakers and Twitter users alike have swarmed on Michel’s address to the Chamber on Wednesday evening, slamming him over his poor knowledge of one of the official languages of the country.

“Mathieu Michel is a little bit like our Belgian Mr Bean,” one Twitter user wrote as he shared a video of the state secretary for digital affairs stammering, switching to French and struggling to find his words as he unveiled his policy vision in Dutch. Read More

3. Belgium urged to move ‘Black Friday’ until after lockdown

Belgium’s government is facing calls to postpone the looming sales heavy Black Friday after the suggestion it would give further advantage to online stores due to the lockdown.

MP Vanessa Matz is calling on the federal government to also start discussions with major retailers and Amazon to postpone “Black Friday” to a later date, similar to what the French government has undertaken.  Read more.

4. Nearly one in three plan to celebrate Christmas with a larger group

Almost one in three Belgians plan to celebrate Christmas with a larger group, the latest results of the great coronavirus study have shown.

Participants of the ongoing study were asked whether they would adhere to the rule of celebrating within the family, which has the possibility of adding one so-called cuddle contact at a variety of dates over the holiday period. Read More.

5. Another year until Belgian 5G frequencies are auctioned

The government will only be ready to auction off the frequencies for 5G internet in a year, according to telecommunications minister Petra De Sutter (Groen).

Belgium is already far behind neighbours like Germany and the Netherlands, where the auction of frequencies has already been partially or completely completed. In Belgium, for the time being, only small-scale projects like a local 5G network at Brussels Airport or in the port area in Antwerp have been approved. Read More.

6. Don’t treat coronavirus patients with Remdesivir, WHO warns

The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends against treating hospitalised Covid-19 patients with Remdesivir, it announced Friday.

The recommendation comes “regardless of disease severity, as there is currently no evidence that Remdesivir improves survival and other outcomes” in hospitalised patients, the WHO said in a statement. Read more.

7. Bruges removes canal swans after bird flu outbreak

The city of Bruges has cleared its signature canals out of hundreds of the swans that inhabit them in order to shelter them from the avian flu.

Some 120 swans were plucked out of the canals of the picturesque Flemish city and transported to protected municipal areas.

The move came after an outbreak of the avian flu was detected among wild birds in the coastal city of Ostend, according to a local councillor, Mercedes Van Volcem. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times