Belgium in Brief: Will Life Be Normal By January?

Belgium in Brief: Will Life Be Normal By January?
Credit: Belga

Now this is kind of difficult to say - and nobody wants to hear it -  but the arrival of the vaccine in Europe won't magically mean we're brought back to normal.

That was, unfortunately, never going to happen.

That's not to say lose hope. A vaccine is a big step, and it's come around far quicker than it could have. Coordination at a European level has helped, while from the sounds of it, Belgium is pushing hard to make sure we're ready.

But don't be disappointed when things don't instantly return to normal - these things take time - for now, we're just waiting to hear what the next update is before we can work out a timeframe.

Yes, that's a pretty bleak way to go into the weekend, especially as we gear up for another marathon committee meeting and press conference, but - at least - it's something.

With that, on with 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. European vaccine prices revealed in Belgian Twitter blunder

Opposition party N-VA has demanded a full explanation after a government minister revealed the confidential prices of six different vaccines against Covid-19.

The information was revealed on Twitter by Eva De Bleeker (Open VLD), who is secretary of state for budget. The tweet has since been deleted, but screenshots have appeared in the press. Read more.

2. Consultative Committee meeting today: what we already know

The latest meeting of Belgium’s Consultative Committee is expected to start today at 2:00 PM, with new measures on the table, but no guarantees anything will change.

Despite initial calls to ease measures for the end-of-year period, experts and politicians alike have stated that such decisions are unlikely, as the focus of the meeting is expected to be on enforcing the rules already in force.

It will take place at Palais d’Egmont in Brussels and is expected to last for several hours. A press conference will follow, with reports that it could come as late as 7:00 PM. Read More.

3. Belgium is ready to start vaccinating by 27 December, health minister confirms

Belgium is ready to administer its first coronavirus vaccines at the end of December, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke confirmed on Thursday.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Thursday that on “27, 28 and 29 December vaccination will start across the EU,” despite the fact that the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has yet to approve the Pfizer – BioNTech vaccine. EMA will meet on 21 December to decide on the authorisation of the vaccine. Read more.

4. Schools will not close until 31 January, Belgian education ministers say

Belgium’s Flemish and Francophone education ministers are ruling out the option to close the country’s schools until 31 January to counter a new wave of infections.

Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts, who last week already said that he did not want to extend the Christmas holidays for Flanders, is entirely against a closure until the end of January.

“We are not going to close the schools because some people want to exploit children as a ball and chain on their parents’ ankle, as a way of keeping them at home,” Weyts told the Belga press agency. Read More.

5. Belgium’s Covid-19 measures won’t change when vaccines arrive

Belgium’s measures against the spread of the coronavirus will not immediately change when the Covid-19 vaccines are in the country, health officials said during a press conference on Friday.

“We still have a great deal to learn about what the vaccine will or will not be able to achieve,” said virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

Vaccinated people may still be carrying the virus for a short period of time without realising it, and pass it on to someone who has not yet been vaccinated. “That is a big risk,” he said. Read more.

6. Coronavirus: Belgium’s reproduction rate rises to 1.0

Belgium’s reproduction rate has risen to 1.0 again as new daily coronavirus infections increase for the sixth day in a row, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Tuesday.

Between 8 and 14 December, an average of 2,445.1 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 12% increase compared to the week before. Read More.

7. Conspiracy messages broadcast onto Brussels digital billboards

Several digital billboards in Brussels were hacked on Wednesday to display conspiracy messages instead of the regular advertising.

Initially, Het Nieuwsblad reported on Thursday on two billboards being hacked – one on Boulevard Emile Bockstael in Laeken and one on Rue Dansaert in Brussels.

In the meantime, the hacking was confirmed by Brussels Capital – Ixelles police spokesperson Olivier Slosse, who added that three additional billboards in Laeken had been hacked. Read More.

Jules Johnston

The Brussels Times

Latest News

Copyright © 2021 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.