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Belgium in Brief: Covid Even Ruined Snow

Credit: Belga / Kaan Ilbas

There are very few things to be excited about when the temperature drops below -5, but playing in the snow is meant to be one of them.

Or, at least, it was – until news from this morning that the Flemish Nature and Forest Agency has banned ice skating made it clear that covid is even impacting the ways we can make snow fun.

Picture it: You and your friends outside on the ice surrounded by people…. Not allowed.

You are outside without anyone else, but you are skating towards people… No.

Ok, so maybe the average “does-it-once-every-two-years” ice skater lacks the degree of control required to make this compliant with measures. I get it.

But what about snowball fights? Socially distanced, sure, but a gathering would break the rules, and a one on one fight with a cuddle contact seems a bit mean for everyone involved.

Or Sledging? Maybe it’s fine in principle, but the lack of hills in Belgium is likely to mass gatherings that break all the rules. Another no.

At least you can build a snowman? They’re not allowed to wear a scarf anymore though, it’s the rules.

How are you experiencing the snow day (that’s basically just any other day but colder)? 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. Scarves and bandanas can no longer be used as face masks

Scarves, neck warmers and bandanas will not be allowed to be used as an alternative to masks as of 13 February, according to the latest update to the Belgian Official Gazette, published at the weekend.

The same change – which follows advice from the Risk Assessment Group (RAG) – also bans the use of masks with valves, as saliva droplets could escape through such a valve, making it possible to still transmit the virus. Read More.

2. Belgian barbers can’t cut beards until March

The reopening of hairdressers – and barbers – may have been met with excitement from those who have gone months without a haircut, anyone hoping to get their beard shaped too will still have to wait.

While barbershops in Belgium are able to resume cutting hair from Saturday 13 February, anyone looking for a beard trim has to wait until next month, according to the information published in the ministerial decree published on Sunday. Read More.

3. Ice skating not allowed in Flanders because of coronavirus rules

Ice skating on lakes or ponds – if the ice is thick enough – that are owned or managed by the Flemish Nature and Forest Agency is forbidden, as it would bring together too many people, violating the coronavirus rules. Read more.

4. Hope for the vaccinated: Wallonia wants restaurants to reopen next

Now that contact professions, zoos and holiday parks have a reopening date, restaurants should be next in line, according to the latest calls from Walloon Minister-President Elio Di Rupo.

According to Di Rupo, they should be allowed to open in March, meaning the topic should be on the agenda of the next consultative committee meeting set for 26 February. Read More.

5. Brussels to keep train stations open 24h for the homeless

As temperatures continue to stay below freezing and Brussels remains blanketed in snow, the city has decided to keep its three largest train stations open around the clock so that homeless people have a warm place to go.

Brussels Central, Brussels North, and Brussels South train stations will be open 24 hours a day, Minister Alain Maron announced on Twitter. Read More.

6. Police raid 36 person Airbnb party in Saint-Gilles

More than €30,000 in fines were collected from a single violation of the coronavirus measures when a 36-person party in an Airbnb was busted by Brussels police this weekend.

The party was being held in the Saint-Gilles neighbourhood on Saturday night and police arrived in response to noise complaints from neighbours. Read More.

7. My Van Ranst beats your Covid: Belgian creates coronavirus card game

Quarantine has been tough on everyone, but it’s also prompted some creative solutions to the boredom of staying indoors – including the invention of a new card game.

Instead of fighting Covid-19 with masks and social distancing, players can lay down cards like Washing Machine and Marc Van Ranst to take on the pandemic. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times