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Belgium in Brief: Lines, Lines, Lines

Credit: Belga

An unfortunate side effect of Belgium stepping up all forms of checks on the borders – as many have been calling for – is lines.

And this weekend certainly showed what happens when things go slightly wrong.

Social media was overwhelmed on the weekend – but specifically Sunday evening – with photos of Brussels Airport in particular, with angry, confused and concerned passengers showing massive lines and close proximity for people returning to the country.

This is, however, likely just the start. With the end of the winter break (which has either happened, is happening, or will happen this weekend depending on your preference) thousands of people are flocking back to Belgium and facing brand new measures that were not in place when they left.

On that note, if you find yourself in a sticky travel situation – let us know.

So, as we have a look into what the week will bring, let’s see what else is on the agenda.

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. Belgium’s rules will not be relaxed on Friday, Vandenbroucke warns

Belgium’s measures against the spread of the coronavirus will not be relaxed during the Consultative Committee on Friday, according to Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

“The figures are going in the right direction, we should thank the people for that,” he told Bel RTL, adding that there has been “remarkable” discipline and solidarity with “difficult measures.”

However, the circulation of the virus remains very high, according to Vandenbroucke. Read more.

2. ‘The most risky part’: Brussels Airport chaos leaves passengers furious

Travellers arriving in Brussels Airport this weekend have raised their concerns over the potential health risk of massive queues and crowds throughout the airport’s various checks.

After long lines formed on Sunday evening while passenger locator forms were checked, photographs and videos showing hundreds of people in close proximity to each other in the Airport began to circulate on social media, alongside exasperated first-hand reports. Read More.

3. 2021: If you want a haircut, stick to the rules, says Belgian PM

Any relaxing of coronavirus measures in March is still hugely dependent on Belgium’s figures and will be linked to how people behave now, according to Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

Going into 2021, De Croo spoke with De Zondag about how the year could play out regarding vaccinations, falling figures, and if there will be relaxation before 1 March. Read More.

4. KU Leuven applies new sanctions on students involved in fatal hazing

The university of Leuven has announced new sanctions on seven members of the fraternity involved in the initiation ritual that caused the death of one student in 2018.

Sanda Dia, aged 20, was taking part in the ritual to join the exclusive fraternity Reuzegom when he became ill, lost consciousness and had to be brought to hospital in December 2018. He died soon after. Read More.

5. Brexit: British expats blocked from returning to Spain

British nationals resident in Spain complained on Sunday that they had been prevented from boarding a Madrid-bound, British Airways/Iberia flight in London on Saturday as a result of Brexit.

Photographer Max Duncan, one of the passengers who were blocked on Saturday at London’s Heathrow Airport, tweeted that many British expatriates were devastated at not being able to return home after the airline told them their residence cards were “not valid after Brexit”. Read More.

6. Belgium’s new coronavirus infections drop below 1,600

Belgium’s daily average new coronavirus infections have dropped below 1,600, according to the latest figures published by the Sciensano public health institute on Monday.

Between 25 and 31 December, an average of 1,588.7 new people tested positive per day over the past week, which is a 27% decrease compared to the week before. Read more.

7. Weather report: snow expected in Belgium this week

More snow is expected in Belgium this week, according to the latest forecast by Belgium’s Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI) on Monday.

The sky will be grey all day on Monday, and snow will continue to fall in the Ardennes, with the provinces of Liège, Namur and Luxembourg being on yellow alert for slipperiness due to snow. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times