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Belgium in Brief: The Unanswerable Questions

It might be a week off of school for the kids of Belgium, but today Belgium in Brief is taking the form of a pop quiz in an effort to better explain the utterly impossible situation we’re likely only weeks away from facing.

Don’t worry, this doesn’t count towards your final grade.

What’s more important:

  • Reopening bars or opening borders?
  • Seeing a grandparent or having visitors?
  • Playing sports or resuming cultural life?

If you could answer literally any of these questions, then the experts in charge of Belgian coronavirus deconfinement strategy could probably use your talents.

Because, as it stands, nobody wants to make the call.

“There will come a time when it will be possible to either open the restaurants, or resume cultural life, or let the sports competitions resume, or allow people to welcome guests into their homes,” virologist Marc Van Ranst told Het Laatste Nieuws this weekend.

“The government will decide which comes first: go to a bar again, or visit grandma,” Van Ranst said, adding that it is difficult to put a date forward, mainly because of the new coronavirus variants.

So what do you think? Is there any way to ease out of deconfinement that doesn’t leave people out? Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

Because I certainly failed this quiz, and by all accounts, I’m not the only one.

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 can be ‘cautiously hopeful,’ says Van Gucht

The slow decline of Belgium’s coronavirus figures is a reason to be ‘cautiously optimistic’ that a loosening of restrictions could be in sight for the country, according to virologist Steven Van Gucht

If this continues, Van Gucht is hopeful Belgium will reach the goal of 75 hospital admissions by mid-March, he said in an interview with De Standaard. This is one of the requirements after which, if fulfilled, there could be relaxations. Read More.

2. Deconfinement: what and when Belgium’s next steps could be

While hairdressers reopened last weekend, several politicians and experts have already made suggestions about possible next steps in the process of lifting Belgium’s lockdown measures.

As Belgium’s coronavirus infection and hospitalisation figures are decreasing slowly and the vaccination campaign is picking up steam, conversations have turned to which measures could be relaxed next, and when. Read more.

3. Four roommates fined for violating coronavirus measures in Ghent

Four students who live together as roommates in Ghent were fined by police for violating coronavirus measures after they were witnessed standing together on their balcony at night while listening to music.

The roommates were fined €250, and at least one of their parents is upset. Read more.

4. People can’t find Belgium’s ‘sworn statement’ needed for travel, police say

Many people do not know about the official document for Belgium’s “sworn statement” that is needed to cross the border for an essential reason, according to the federal police.

“Most people who wanted to cross the border respected the rules, but many did not know there was an official document that they have to fill out,” Sarah Frederickx, spokesperson for the federal police, told The Brussels Times. Read More.

5. Students who live together can be seen as a household, interior minister says

Students living together in the same accommodation can be considered as a household, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said amid an ongoing discussion on students’ coronavirus measures.

For that to happen, however, they must be actually living together in their accommodation, which is known as a “kot.” Read More.

6. Brussels wants to remind you: no spitting on the street

In response to complaints from Brussels residents, signs went up in the Jette neighborhood reminding people that spitting on the street is an offence punishable by a €350 fine.

The signs, which say “You’re not a llama, don’t spit on the street!” in both French and Dutch, are meant to promote awareness among people who might not have realised that it’s forbidden by law. Read More.

7. Drunk cyclist who crashed into Belgian mayor gains viral fame

A Belgian cyclist who was recorded crashing his bike into Hasselt mayor Steven Vandeput has gained viral fame in the past month, with more than 3.6 million users flocking to watch the incident on Youtube.

The 8-second video – which dates back to June 2020 – shows the man crashing his bike into the mayor in the middle of an interview. He is then pushed out of the way, only to fall over. According to reports, the man was drunk at the time of the incident. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times