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Belgium in Brief: Travel, Relax, Don’t Stress

Credit: Belga/Wikipedia

Yeah, that headline may make this sound a little like an advert for a holiday company – remember holidays? – but it’s actually just the two main things on the agenda for Belgium this week.

Will we be able to travel across the border for non-essential but still vital reasons – or will those stay closed?

Will measures relax after nothing happened last week – or will the meetings of today and Friday end in nothing?

At this point, it’s still guesswork.

The latest news says that the relaxations that were expected to be announced last week could be approved during the Consultative Committee meeting this Friday, according to Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon.

But, let’s face it: COULD falls pretty short of WOULD.

So what’s going to happen? (Seriously, we’re all up for suggestions.) Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

Readers’ thoughts on if border closures have been justified can be found here.

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. New relaxations could be approved on Friday, confirms Jambon

The relaxations that were expected to be announced last week could be approved during the Consultative Committee meeting this Friday, according to Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon.

He said that Belgium’s infections and hospital admissions are evolving more favourably again, after a particularly high peak of 204 new hospitalisations last Friday, which led the authorities to postpone any possible decisions by a week. Read More.

2. ‘Illegal’: Brussels vaccination centre criticised for lack of Dutch-speaking staff

A Dutch-speaking woman from Brussels filed a complaint against the Heysel coronavirus vaccination centre this week after she failed to get the information she requested in her language about possible side-effects.

She received an invitation to be vaccinated on Monday, and after receiving her shot, she wanted to ask a question about the side-effects of the dose when taking the pill, but there were no Dutch-speaking staff in the centre to help her. Read More.

3. AstraZeneca for over-55s: what does it mean for Belgium’s vaccination strategy?

The latest recommendation by Belgian health authorities to also use the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine for people over 55 years old will significantly accelerate the country’s vaccination strategy.

Even though the government still has to formally adopt the advice given by the Superior Health Council on Tuesday afternoon, Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke told VTM News that it is “crucial” for an adjustment of the strategy. Read More.

4. After sexual assault awareness campaign, changes to be made to Cinquantenaire Park

More police patrols, better lighting, and lower bushes are some of the changes being made to counter assault in the Cinquantenaire Park in Brussels.

The measures come following the near-rape of an expat who was attacked while walking home and only narrowly escaped. The woman launched a petition calling for changes to the park after she learned that police were already aware “that there are monthly cases of rape and sexual assault in this area.” Read More.

5. Covid-19: Virologist measures her ‘stop complaining’ words

Erika Vlieghe, the infectious diseases expert from the Antwerp university hospital, has published an open letter in De Morgen in which she goes back on statements she made in an interview at the weekend which caused some lively response.

In the interview, she called for a halt to the endless series of complaints. “Can we please stop the daily flow of negative reports on just about all aspects of the epidemic and crisis management?” Read More.

6. Police believe explosion ‘deliberately targeted’ Dutch coronavirus test centre

The Dutch police believe the explosive which was detonated near a Covid-19 screening centre in North Holland on Wednesday morning was deliberately targeting the ‘test street’.

According to reports in Dutch media, a metal pipe exploded on the outside of the building some 50 km from Amsterdam in what the Dutch police are investigating as a “targeted attack.” Read More.

7. Sainte Catherine church will undergo careful renovations to north façade

The north façade of the iconic Sainte-Catherine de Bruxelles church will be getting a renovation over the next two to three years intended to restore the structure to its original glory with the help of expert craftsmen.

Building investment fund Beliris will be overseeing the careful restoration, just as they did for the west façade, and estimate the restoration costs at €3 million. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times