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Belgium in Brief: The Big Event Of The Week

Maybe it’s the approaching anniversary of Belgium’s lockdown, maybe it’s the lack of changes to measures, or the improving weather – but today we’re talking about plans.

Remember having plans? They were great. It’s the weekend, we should be thinking about plans.

Previously, a Friday would be a day when things were happening. You’d meet a friend for a beer, grab dinner, a movie. Yet now, for nearly a year, we’ve been doing those things in our house (likely in sweatpants).

I know I’m not the only person who views the postman actually ringing the doorbell as a high point for the week.

But let’s not dwell, because I’d like to invite you to the event of the week, or maybe even the month (but not the year).

You know where this is going.

Because it’s time for another Consultative Committee press conference, I know it’s exciting, but please remain calm. Everyone’s going to be there.

The place: Your couch/table/phone
Time: 7:00 PM… probably
Dress Code: Literally anything.

So – you’re all invited, tell your friends. We’ll be liveblogging no matter what.

And maybe. Just maybe. This could be the time things change.

So what do you think is going to happen?

Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter

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1. What to expect from Belgium’s Consultative Committee today

After a “time out” of a week, Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet again on Friday to discuss possible relaxations, as the coronavirus curve is stabilising after last week’s sudden peak.

The Consultative Committee will meet again in person from 2:00 PM today, and its decisions will be announced during a press conference afterwards, the cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed to The Brussels Times. Read More.

2. Belgium has to present clear timetable for reopening today, urges minister

Today’s Consultative Committee has to set a clear timetable for the reopening of all closed sectors in Belgium starting from April or May, according to Paul Magnette, leader of the Francophone socialist PS party.

“We need a timetable that opens up a clear outlook,” he told Sudpresse on Friday morning. “We cannot leave a meeting this Friday with something vague or with a simple announcement of easing measures later.” Read More.

3. Less strict measures can work, if the population follows them, Van Gucht says

The fact that Belgium’s new infections are evolving favourably again shows that less strict measures can work to stop the spread of the virus if the population follows them, health officials said during a press conference on Friday.

After a sudden peak at the end of last week, the stabilising figures raise the hope that a possible third wave can be avoided, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht. Read More.

4. Employers divided over treatment of employees refusing to be vaccinated

Confusion reigns within the ranks of employers in Flanders, over how to deal with employees who refuse to be vaccinated against Covid-19, the VRT reports. Read More.

5. ‘Not watertight’: WHO against coronavirus vaccination passport

The World Health Organisation (WHO) said it does not recommend the introduction of a coronavirus vaccination passport currently being proposed by the European Commission, as it comes with some ‘difficult challenges’.

Despite recognising the ‘feasibility and desirability of this digital travel pass, the organisation does not recommend them, said WHO’s Regional Director for Europe, Hans Kluge. Read More.

6. Brussels residents sign petition to keep Uber operating in the capital

Residents of Brussels are signing a petition protesting the smartphone ban for Uber drivers that has left the US-based rideshare company unable to operate in the Belgian capital this week.

Reactions to the ban have been mixed, with some politicians calling its basis (a 1995 law against “radio communication devices”) flimsy and others arguing that the American business model (in which drivers are contractors without basic workers’ rights) has no place in a progressive European city. Read More.

7. Sunny but cold weekend ahead for Belgium

A sunny but cold weekend lies ahead, according to a weather forecast by the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI).

The weather will remain dry on Friday. While central and southern Belgium will experience clouds in the morning, clear skies are expected in the rest of the country. As the hours go by, it will become sunny everywhere. Read more.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times