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Belgium in Brief: Brussels Had Humanity For One Day

You never like to see this.

A charitable sounding decision to keep Brussels’ three largest train stations open around the clock to shelter homeless people from the freezing temperatures has been abandoned (disregarded? forgotten? you pick) less than 24 hours after it was first announced.

Across the country, temperatures are expected to drop to new lows, causing many to worry for the safety of the cities’ thousands of homeless people. In an unexpected move, it was decided that Brussels Central, Brussels North, and Brussels South would all stay open last night.

Unfortunately, it really didn’t last.

Yesterday, Brussels Minister Alain Maron said that the SNCB was evaluating the possibility of extending the measure for future nights with station managers.

Today it appears that the decision was made to not do so for all stations, while temperatures are expected to drop as low as -12 with snow.

Yesterday you couldn’t avoid the news that this was happening.

Today the conversation is playing out in Twitter replies… while temperatures are expected to drop as low as -12 with snow.

Yesterday temperatures were below freezing.

Today… yeah, as I said, temperatures are expected to drop as low as -12 with snow.

This means that the plan wasn’t even in effect for the coldest night.

So what do you think? Are shelters enough? Was the station more of a temporary solution? 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. Brussels walks back promise to use train stations as shelters for homeless

After initially promising that Brussels’ three largest train stations would remain open around the clock to shelter homeless people from the freezing temperatures, SNCB says that now only one of them will be. Read More.

2. Brussels begins transforming ‘ghost hotel’ into luxury city resort

The “Ghost Hotel” of Brussels is finally getting its renovation, as work begins on the historical Brussels Hotel Astoria almost 15 years after it closed its doors.

The transformation, which received €2.7 million in funding from the regional government, will include the renovation and modernisation of 121 rooms and suites, and the addition of two extra floors to the building’s original structure. Read More.

3. Belgium’s curfew is constitutional after all, correctional court rules

On Tuesday, the Charleroi correctional court overturned on appeal the much-discussed verdict of a police court questioning the legality of Belgium’s coronavirus curfew, confirming that it is constitutional after all.

On 21 September, the Charleroi police court ruled that Belgium’s curfew measure was unconstitutional, a verdict that the public prosecutor’s office immediately appealed against. Read more.

4. Why Wallonia wants to relax measures but Flanders doesn’t

A recent call from Walloon Minister-President Elio Di Rupo to make restaurants next in line to relax measures has highlighted the difference in attitude towards the virus and the rules in Belgium’s different Regions. Read More.

5. ‘UK vaccinates 1,000 per minute’: expert criticises Belgium’s vaccination speed

The CEO of the University hospital in Brussels (UZ Brussel), Marc Noppen, has criticised Belgium for not going fast enough in its vaccination campaign.

On Twitter, Noppen compared Belgium’s vaccination progress to that of the United Kingdom, sharing an article stating that the UK is vaccinating about 1,000 people per minute. Read More.

6. Homeless man builds ice sculptures in Brussels for passers-by

People wandering the Boulevard Anspach yesterday might have taken note of an impressive lion sculpted from snow.

Its creator is Slimane Ouhabi, who came to Brussels from Morocco where he used to regularly craft snow and ice sculptures, according to Bruzz. Read More.

7. Belgian gritter goes viral after creative salt spreading

As temperatures continue to sit below 0 degrees, a Belgian gritter has gone viral in the country for his novel approach to spreading salt when he wasn’t able to get the proper tools.

Seemingly unable to get ahold of a gritter, the city worker instead took a light truck through the city, stopping to spread salt by hand across La Louvière. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times