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Belgium in Brief: Is Bpost Cancelling Christmas?

Credit: Belga/Bpost

In the middle of discussions about if and how Christmas can be celebrated during a pandemic, Belgium’s postal service Bpost announced that it would no longer deliver all packages to the home address of customers.

Following news that contracted business clients of Bpost will be charged €1 extra for Christmas packages, the service has now said it will be unable to deliver all packages at home, forcing people instead to pick up the package at one of the 2,300 pick-up points across the country.

Last week, on Tuesday and Wednesday, Bpost handled more than 520,000 packages a day, and traffic is expected to go above 600,000 a day in the week between Black Friday and Sinterklaas – from 27 November to 4 December.

Since non-essential retail is closed for now due to the coronavirus restrictions, and Sinterklaas and Christmas are approaching, more and more people are turning to online shopping.

Even if the shops manage to open before the festive season, many people will prefer to shop from home rather than face crowded shopping streets.

For more news about what the Christmas period will look like in Belgium, we will have to wait until Friday, when the Consultative Committee is expected to discuss options and possibilities.

While we wait for clarity, 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: around 2 million Belgians to get priority vaccination

Belgium will offer priority vaccination against Covid-19 to 20% of its population, amounting to over 2 million people, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced.

Health personnel, people over 65 years old and citizens with health conditions are set to be first in line to get vaccinated for the new coronavirus.

“Those three groups make up about 20% of of the population,” De Croo said. “By protecting them first, we can avoid putting too much pressure on hospitals if the virus started circulating again, because it is vulnerable people that end up in the hospital quicker.” Read More.

2. 440,000 citizens in Belgium are on long-term sick leave

There are some 440,000 people on paid long-term sick leave in Belgium, a figure that does not include the self-employed and public servants.

Social Affairs Minister Frank Vandenbroucke has said that he aims to make reintegration of citizens on long-term sick leave a priority in the next few years. Read More.

3. Coronavirus infections in Belgium drop below 4,000 new cases per day

The number of daily new coronavirus infections has dropped below 4,000, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Monday.

Between 13 and 19 November, an average of 3,672.3 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 28% decrease compared to the week before. Read more.

4. Elon Musk now world’s third richest man, after Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates

Elon Musk, CEO of electric car manufacturer Tesla and founder of SpaceX has become the world’s third richest man according to the latest Bloomberg Billionaire ranking, following a surge in Tesla’s market value.

According to the Bloomberg index, Musk’s wealth is valued at $121 billion. Tesla is the world’s most valuable car manufacturer, with a market value of nearly 400 billion dollars. Musk, who owns 20% of Tesla’s shares, has seen his fortune increase by $90 billion this year.

With this figure, he has overtaken Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg whose fortune stands at ‘only’ $104 billion. Read More.

5. Coronavirus immunity lasts up to six months, study shows

People who have contracted Covid-19 are unlikely to be re-infected within six months after recovery, according to a study by the University of Oxford and the University Hospitals of Oxford.

The research, presented on Friday and yet to undergo peer reviews, is based on tests conducted between April and November 2020 on 12,180 employees of the university’s hospitals. The health workers were tested regularly to determine whether they had antibodies and to see if they had COVID-19. Read More.

6. Brussels student out of danger after balcony fall at lockdown party

A Brussels student is out of danger following a fall from a fifth-floor apartment balcony during a lockdown party at the weekend.

The Brussels-Ixelles police zone received a nuisance complaint out of Ixelles’ Avenue de l’Université, near the main campus of the Université Libre de Bruxelles, at around midnight on Friday.

As police attempted to enter the property, one of the patrols heard a noise coming from around the building’s garages and discovered that one attendant had fallen down from the balcony of the fifth-floor flat. Read more.

7. Antwerp dad and daredevil baby make headline news in US

Kenny Deuss is a sound engineer from Antwerp for an events organiser, and the closure of the sector means he can stay home to look after Alix, now 18 months old.

And that is why new now has 40,000 followers on Instagram, articles in the Daily Mail and a report on Fox News in the US – Alix is the star of her own Instagram adventure, made up of photos of her in all manner of hair-raising, extremely dangerous situations, like sitting on the edge of a cliff, rocketing through space or taking a tour in a washing machine. Read more.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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