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Belgium in Brief: No, You Still Can’t Have A Sex Party

Credit: Belga

Perhaps something has been misunderstood in Belgium’s current rules, because – while often confusing – they have been pretty clear on one thing.

No group gatherings. None.

Otherwise, we risk current measures continuing well into 2021, according to Belgium’s Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.

Reacting to the news of several lockdown parties organised last weekend, Verlinden said that these gatherings are “absolutely not acceptable.”

So, just to be clear, let’s have a recap. 

Police break up nine lockdown parties in Antwerp – that’s 9 parties that shouldn’t have happened. Not allowed.

Similarly, with the news that police shut down two lockdown parties with College of Europe students over the weekend, it’s perhaps necessary to say that is ALSO not allowed. It’s also not the first time the college has been cause for similar stories.

Finally, we get to a story that I’m almost certain was VERY clear last week. You can’t have a sex party, not in Limburg, not in Brussels. A sex party is a gathering. They are not allowed.

“It is unbelievable that a number of people still do not understand it or do not want to understand it,” Verlinden told VTM News on Monday evening. “This absolutely has to stop. Now.”

“We are doing everything we can to show people that we mean business,” she said. “But if individuals continue to violate the rules, we will still be stuck with these strict measures by Easter.”

Nobody wants that, now let’s see what else is going on.

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. Relaxations over Christmas would start Belgium’s third wave, warns Van Ranst

Relaxing the current coronavirus measures for the end-of-year holidays would lead to the start of a third wave in Belgium, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst.

“This epidemic is far from over,” Van Ranst told Het Laatste Nieuws on Tuesday, referring to the recent stagnation of Belgium’s infection figures.

“Relaxations are certainly not the solution now, the epidemic is still too present. It would be the start of a third wave,” he said. Read more.

2. Belgium makes quarantine mandatory for all red-zone travellers again

All people returning to Belgium from a red travel zone will again be required to quarantine during the end-of-year period, according to Karine Moykens, head of the Interfederal Testing & Tracing Committee.

“From 18 December, all travellers will still have to fill in the Passenger Locator Form (PLF), but people coming from a red zone will also be required to go into quarantine for ten days, with a test on day seven,” Moykens said on Flemish radio on Monday afternoon. “If the test is negative, you can leave quarantine.” Read More.

3. Covid-19: hospital patients continue to rise in Belgium

The number of hospitalised coronavirus patients continues to increase as other coronavirus indicators drop more slowly, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Tuesday.

Between 28 November and 4 December, an average of 2,132.9 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 9% decrease compared to the week before. Read more.

4. Belgium should consider stricter rules if infections stop falling, expert warns

If Belgium’s coronavirus infections do not decrease further, the authorities should start considering tightening up the measures again, according to biostatistician Geert Molenberghs.

At this rate, the figures will not be low enough to allow any kind of relaxation “before the end of January,” Molenberghs said in an interview with TVL, adding that the thresholds of 800 new infections and 75 hospital admissions per day announced by Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke have to be reached first.

“However, the longer this stagnation continues, the more [that point] moves forward in time,” he said. “If we get stuck or there is an increase again, we must think of how to deal with it, possibly with tighter measures.” Read More.

5. 90-year-old woman becomes first person to receive Covid-19 vaccine

90-year-old Margaret Keenan has become the first person in the world to be vaccinated against Covid-19 outside the context of a clinical trial.

Keenan, who is originally from Northern Ireland, was vaccinated at University Hospital in Coventry. “I feel so privileged to be the first person vaccinated against Covid-19,” said Keenan, who will turn 91 next week. Read more.

6. Flemish universities remain in code red through February

Flemish universities and colleges will continue operating in code red until the end of February, Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts announced on Tuesday.

“Instead of small relaxations in the short term, which may have to be withdrawn soon, we choose to keep up the efforts for longer,” Weyts said, allowing for “more drastic” relaxations in the long run.

In that way, “we are now choosing for stability, but with a clear perspective,” he said. Read More.

7. EU negotiator sets Wednesday deadline for post-Brexit trade deal

Post-Brexit trade negotiations between the EU and the UK could continue until Wednesday, on the eve of a European summit, in what may be the final opportunity to reach an agreement.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier set this deadline during a briefing with Members of European Parliament.

Thursday’s European summit, then, could mark the presentation of the broad outlines of an agreement, or the preparation of emergency measures, depending on how trade negotiations go in the days to come. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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