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Belgium in Brief: The April Fool’s Deadline

The relatively uninteresting conclusions of Belgium’s consultative committee on Friday have once again drip-fed us some information on how things could look in the coming months – and given us a (current) deadline for the current measures.

That day is 1 April, otherwise known as April Fool’s (or Fools’) Day, and I have my concerns.

This day is the bane of a journalist’s existence, as we contend with press releases and tweets that seem just too good to be true – probably because they are.

So, just picture it. How likely is it that you’d have believed some of the headlines of the past year if they had been announced on a day when it’s widely accepted that lying is totally fine?

You can go and see a friend, but you can’t use the toilet.

Yeah, good one.

You can go see both of your parents, but both of your parents can’t come and see you.

Wow, that one doesn’t even really make sense. 

You will grow to hate working from home.

Pfft, that’s not even a good joke. My home office is great.

The date in question is months away, and by all accounts is more of a technicality, but in my humble opinion… let’s keep the big announcements clear of that day.

What do you think? 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. Belgium extends covid measure deadline to 1 April

Belgium’s Covid measures have been officially extended until 1 April, according to the latest information from Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

While the extension – announced on Friday – means rules could last until then, it does not mean they necessarily will.  “This is done in order to have the necessary legal certainty also after 1 March 2021. This does not mean that no interim decisions or revisions are possible,” the announcement reads. Read More.

2. Why Belgium relaxed measures even though figures didn’t improve

Credit: Belga

Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has defended the call by the Consultative Committee to relax certain measures, despite daily coronavirus infection figures being nearly 400 higher than they were at the previous meeting. Read More.

3. Belgian vaccination task force to review strategy on AstraZeneca

Following the announcement that South Africa will halt its use of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Belgium’s vaccination task force will look at the new information on the vaccine and may adjust its strategy, said virologist Marc Van Ranst. Read more.

4. Covid-19 cluster found at Brussels’ 101 police centre

Credit: Belga

Many employees of the Communication and Information Centre (CIC) of the Brussels-Capital Region, which hosts the police’s 101 hotline, are in quarantine after testing positive for Covid-19.

According to the federal police, which made the announcement on Saturday in a press release confirming earlier media reports, this will not affect people trying to seek emergency assistance. Read More.

5. Flanders is barely checking quarantine compliance

Many Flemish municipalities are only sporadically checking quarantine compliance by infected residents or returned travellers, despite this being the final step of Belgium’s corona enforcement plan. Read More.

6. Temperatures to drop below -10 this week

Belgium will experience freezing temperatures in the coming days, and several weather alerts are in place, according to the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI).

For one, a yellow alert for slippery conditions is in place until Tuesday at 10:00 AM. In addition, there is a yellow alert for cold for most of the country through Thursday. Read More.

7. Indian cult members harass Belgian public figures on Twitter

Belgian politicians and football players have been spammed on Twitter over the past week by followers of an incarcerated Indian cult leader who claims to be the incarnation of a 15th-century mystic.

The recipients of the Tweets include accounts from the football world like Club Brugge and the Red Devils, as well as various Flemish politicians and even Dutch-language news outlets like VRT NWS and Humo. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times