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Belgium in Brief: Yes, You Can Use The Toilet

This headline is local journalism in 2021. This is actually news and quite important news at that.

As the weather improves, and the new measures make it so you could potentially have some people over in your garden – providing you follow the rules – people wanted to know two things.

  • Can they go through my house to get to my garden? (yes)
  • Can they use the toilet? (also yes)

Let’s just think about that for a second.

On one hand, these are actually really important logistical questions during a time that continues to be totally new for everyone involved. We’re desperate for something to change, and it means that even relatively small changes are incredibly important for a while.

On the other hand, this whole situation is bordering on parody. I grew up in the 90s watching reruns of old comedy shows from before I was born, and this situation feels like it belongs on one of those shows.

In this week’s episode, the neighbours design a contraption to get over the roof of the Johnstons’ house so they can be in their garden and not break the rules. While this is going on, the Johnstons work together to build an outdoor toilet out of leftover wood, and while they didn’t need it, they learn some important lessons along the way.

We’re in a strange situation, but with the latest timeline, some sectors are starting to hope. Others are disillusioned by what they see as all talk no action.

So where do you stand? Did the new measures actually change much? Or will the next few months continue to look equal parts vital and borderline unbelievable?

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. Belgium’s timeline for relaxing coronavirus measures

Belgium is officially relaxing some coronavirus fighting measures and giving perspective to several sectors, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced during a press conference on Friday.

Calling for caution, De Croo set out how the next few months could go – as long as the situation in Belgium stays under control, and the evolution of coronavirus infection rates and hospitalisations. Read More.

2. Cheat Sheet: What actually changes from today?

Monday 8 March is the first day of Belgium’s latest ambitious deconfinement plan, as the country starts easing measures bit by bit.

As with any changes, these measures were first announced on Friday night by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, only to be clarified over the weekend after politicians and citizens picked the plan apart. So, here’s where the rules stand as of today.

3. Curfew is a ‘serious infringement of our liberty’ says Jambon

In its last meeting on Friday, the Consultative Committee announced a number of minor relaxations of the measures taken to combat the spread of Covid-19.

One thing that was only mentioned in passing, however, was the curfew that has been in force since October last year. Wallonia did decide to bring its curfew into line with Flanders – midnight to 5:00 AM – leaving Brussels region alone from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM. Read More.

4. Dead man found in park may be victim of homophobic hate crime

The man whose body was found in a park in Beveren in East Flanders, just outside of Antwerp, may have been the victim of a homophobic hate crime.

The victim was approached on a gay dating app and set up, VRT reports. When the victim went to an arranged meeting place, he was stabbed and beaten to death by three suspects. Read More.

5. Relaxing outdoor measures not same as larger social bubble, virologists warn

Starting from Monday, people in Belgium can see a larger group of people outdoors, but virologists have urged people not to view this relaxation of measures as an expansion of their ‘social bubble’.

During Friday’s Consultative Committee, First Minister Alexander De Croo announced people could now meet with up to ten people outdoors, excluding children under the age of 12, but only if they practice social distancing and wear masks. Read More.

6. Plainclothes officers deployed in Brussels to fight sexual harassment

Brussels police have launched a project in collaboration with the city’s public prosecutor’s office to use plainclothes police officers to tackle the issue of sexual harassment on the streets.

Such acts, which include calling people names, scolding or harassing them, have been punishable by up to one month in prison or a fine of €50 to €1,000 since 2014, but with this project, the city hopes to further “increase the safety and quality of life in Brussels for girls and women.” Read more.

7. Belgium should have four linguistic regions, argues Di Rupo

Walloon minister-president Elio Di Rupo has suggested Belgium should re-evaluate its “very complicated institutional architecture” to become a federal country made up of four equal, largely autonomous regions.

He highlighted this change could have the merit of simplicity to help strengthen our political system, in an interview published by Le Soir on Monday. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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