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Belgium in Brief: Readers Questions

In a break from the tradition of an already formless intro, today’s Belgium in Brief is less about a topic, and more a call for reply.

For around a year, Covid has dominated the news, and – despite what people may think – we don’t love that either.

So as the tone moves from climbing figures to vaccine squabbles, and as The Brussels Times team expands – I want to know what you want to know about.

Is zone 30 giving you a headache? Want more info on the pedestrian areas?

Do you not understand your new residency rights? Or travel rules?

Do you have no idea who Bart De Wever is, and at this point, you are too afraid to ask?

Maybe there’s another question I’m not thinking of… or something you have seen that you think deserves reporting.

Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

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. Not first, not last: The struggle to give young people answers on vaccines

Young people across Belgium have been left struggling to understand the latest changes to the country’s vaccination policy, which seems unable to give a concrete answer on when it will be their turn.

“If we want to give young people prospects, it is not enough to vaccinate them first,” Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said on Wednesday in the programme De Ochtend (VRT). “But that doesn’t mean they will have to wait until the end of the campaign either. We never said that,” he said. Read More.

2. Belgian police can’t stop people leaving on non-essential journeys

People caught ignoring Belgium’s ban on non-essential travel by the police will be fined, but the police are not allowed to stop them from leaving.

If the police catch people crossing the border for a non-essential reason, they will draw up an official report and sanction them with a fine of €250 per traveller, but they will not send travellers back, according to an internal document seen by Het Laatste Nieuws. Read More.

3. Belgium will consider reopening hairdressers on Friday

Belgium could decide that hairdressers will be allowed to reopen – under strict conditions – during the Consultative Committee on Friday, according to Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

“The feeling is that this is really becoming a major need for the people, and we are going to see what we can do on Friday,” Vandenbroucke said on Flemish radio on Wednesday morning. Read more.

4. Elderly care workers in Wallonia and Brussels refuse to be vaccinated

Despite informational webinars, training, and even the opportunity to watch management themselves receive the vaccine, large numbers of residential care workers in Wallonia and Brussels are refusing to be vaccinated against the coronavirus.

As many as half of all elderly care workers in Wallonia and 40% of healthcare workers in Brussels are rejecting the vaccine, and experts blame rampant disinformation and “fake news” for the low vaccination rates. Read More.

5. Face masks now also recommended in the office

From now on, Belgium also recommends wearing a face mask in the office, based on the latest advice from the Risk Assessment Group (RAG).

The new RAG advice recommends wearing masks in the office and other enclosed spaces that people share with others who are not part of their own household, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht. Read More.

6. Bozar turns to crowdfunding to help pay for fire damage

Bozar, the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, is to start a crowdfunding campaign to help it cope with the costs of a fire that broke out on the roof of the building two weeks ago.

The fire causes damage to the roof itself, as well as water damage to the interior and the organ in the main concert hall. The organ, which was thoroughly renovated as recently as 2017, has suffered 80% damage. Read More.

7. Price of fuel at the pump rises from Thursday

Pumping petrol and diesel will become more expensive from Thursday, the Federal Public Economy Service (FPS Economy) said on Wednesday.

A litre of 95 (E10) petrol will cost a maximum of €1.41 per litre, representing an increase of 2.3 cents. Petrol 98 (E5) will cost €1.468 per litre, or an increase of 1.9 cents. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times