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Belgium in Brief: Unaware of Zone 30

Brussels’ new generalised 30 km/h speed limit has been well-respected in the two weeks since it was implemented on 1 January, but police are afraid that might change when people return to work.

In the case of people coming back to the city after months of working from home, it might not be a question of not wanting to follow the rules, but of not knowing the rules are there, according to the police.

“We would like to avoid having to fine people who just do not know that the rules have changed,” Jurgen De Landsheer, chief of the Brussels-Midi police zone, told The Brussels Times. “It would be a pity, and above all, that is certainly not the intention.”

However, a road sign with ‘Zone 30’ is understandable in all languages, according to Brussels Mobility Minister Elke Van den Brandt, and being unaware of the rule change does not mean you won’t be fined.

“‘Not knowing’ is not good enough. If you were caught driving too fast, then you were driving too fast,” Brussels public prosecutor Jean-Marc Meilleur said. “The information is everywhere. No excuses.”

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1. UK won’t accept a negative Covid test in Dutch upon arrival

Travellers in Flanders have been left in a difficult situation after it emerged that a negative covid result in Dutch is not officially accepted under UK arrival rules.

Under current rules, travellers to the UK must have proof of a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) test to travel to the UK, and must be able to present it before boarding travel. However, according to official advice, this test can only be in one of 3 languages – and translations are not allowed. Read More.

2. Police fear Brussels ‘Zone 30’ could fail once people return to work

Brussels police are afraid that compliance with the Capital-Region’s new generalised zone 30 will fall apart once teleworking is no longer mandatory and people start driving to work in the city again.

Since it was implemented on 1 January 2021, people who live and work in Brussels have generally been respectful of the new 30 km/h speed limit, according to Jurgen De Landsheer, chief of the Brussels-Midi police zone.

“The only thing I am a bit afraid of is the moment when all those people who are currently still teleworking return to Brussels, and so-called ‘normal life’ starts up again in a few months,” he told The Brussels Times. Read More.

3. UK coronavirus variant now also found in Brussels

The coronavirus variant that was first detected in the UK has now also been found in the Brussels-Capital Region, according to KU Leuven researcher Piet Maes.

Even though no outbreaks of the more infectious variant have been reported in the capital, about ten out of several hundred samples analysed by Maes were from people in Brussels infected with the UK variant. Read More.

4. Bozar Fire: Centre will close and assess damage

Bozar will remain closed until at least Monday, after a fire requiring nearly 100 firefighters occurred on the roof of the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels.

While the fire did not damage any major work, a complete review of the damage is yet to be undertaken. A total of 99 firefighters were mobilised to the scene on Monday afternoon, with the fire eventually under control by 9:30 PM. Read more.

5. Drivers unaware of Brussels ‘Zone 30’ will still be fined

Drivers who claim they are unaware of the Brussels-Capital Region’s new generalised 30 km/h speed limit will still have to pay their fine, Brussels authorities stressed.

“The speed cameras take a photo, and the device tells you how fast you were driving,” De Landsheer told The Brussels Times. “It catches you in the act. The evidence is in the picture, we as a police force cannot just decide to let that slide.” Read more.

6. Impose fines on travellers who refuse to get tested, justice minister asks

Federal Justice Minister Vincent Van Quickenborne wants to impose fines on travellers returning from a red zone who refuse to get tested, various Belgian media reported on Tuesday.

Travellers returning from red zones receive a code entitling them to two tests after filling out a passenger locator form, and “our systems know who does not use these codes,” Van Quickenborne warned.

The people who refuse to get tested should be fined €250, according to him. Read More.

7. Eurostar could be bankrupt before summer

The cross-Channel high-speed train company Eurostar, hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, warns that it could find itself bankrupt at the end of spring without government help.

“Disaster is possible,” Eurostar chief executive Jacques Damas said on Monday, reports the Belga news agency, calling on both the UK and the French government for support. Read More.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times