Belgium in Brief: Brussels Extends A ‘Serious Infringement Of Our Liberty’
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Belgium in Brief: Brussels Extends A ‘Serious Infringement Of Our Liberty’

Despite vocal criticism from across the political sphere and consistent complaints from citizens, Brussels has announced that it will continue to keep in force a measure described by Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon as a “serious infringement of our liberty.”

I’m talking, of course, about the current 10:00 PM curfew in place in the region, which has been extended until the end of the month… at least.

Everything seems to come with the caveat of “at least” these days.

Ok, so this has happened before, but this one is a little bit more surprising for a number of reasons.

  • The pressure to lift the curfew in Belgium is increasing as a growing number of politicians have spoken out against the extension of the measure.
  • Even supporters like CD&V party leader Joachim Coens have called the Brussels curfew – in force from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM – “problematic,” saying that the coordination with the other Regions should be discussed.
  • As I said at the start, high-level politicians have called curfews, in general, a “serious infringement of our liberty”.

The fact that the matter was not discussed – or even mentioned – during the last meeting of the consultative committee is also coming under fire.

It’s even been hinted that the curfew could last in some capacity until May.

Have you had any experience with the curfew? Problems? Concerns?

Or should the measure just be accepted while other things start to ease bit by bit?

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. Over 1 million vaccines administered in Belgium so far

Over one million vaccines have been administered in Belgium since the start of the vaccination campaign, according to Sabine Stordeur of the Vaccination Taskforce.

As Phase 1B of the country’s vaccination strategy starts this week with the vaccination of the elderly in vaccination centres, Belgium reached a milestone on Tuesday, Stordeur said at a press conference. Read More.

2. Cracking of encrypted messaging service dealt major blow to organised crime

The cracking of a previously-unbreakable encrypted messaging service popular with criminals involved in drug trafficking and organised crime delivered a major victory for the justice system on Tuesday.

The cracking of the expensive messaging app, called “Sky ECC,” was what allowed over 1,500 police officers across Belgium to be simultaneously deployed in at least 200 raids, many of which were centred around Antwerp and involved special forces. Read more.

3. 17 tonnes of cocaine and €1.2 million seized in major police operation in Belgium

During the large-scale searches throughout Belgium, 48 suspects were arrested and €1.2 million and 17 tonnes of cocaine were seized, the federal public prosecutor’s office stated during a press conference on Tuesday. Read More.

4. New complaint over lack of Dutch-speaking help at Brussels test centre

Police were yesterday called to intervene in a dispute between a Dutch-speaking man and the staff of a coronavirus testing centre at Merode in Brussels.

The man came for testing to the centre, and sought to be assisted in Dutch – which ought in principle to be possible. However at that time there was no-one available to help him in Dutch, which led to a dispute. Staff at the centre called the police. Read More.

5. Belgium seeks middle ground to ensure healthy happy teleworking

When it comes to teleworking, the Belgian authorities are looking for the middle ground between controlling the further spread of the coronavirus and ensuring workers’ mental health.

As the Consultative Committee last Friday decided to extend the obligation to telework, Federal Economy Minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne was tasked with finding the “happy medium” between the measures and people’s work-life balance. Read more.

6. Belgium asks for EU-wide deadlines on diesel and petrol car bans

Belgium and eight other countries have asked the European Commission to set precise deadlines for the whole EU to gradually ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars.

Along with Denmark and the Netherlands, Belgium took the initiative in this appeal, as it wants to be a leader in the change towards more sustainable road transport, Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten and Mobility Minister Georges Gilkinet said Wednesday. Read More.

7. Brussels bike thief sentenced to 37 months in prison

A Brussels man was sentenced to 37 months in prison for a series of bicycle thefts in the train stations of Bruges and Ostend.

The man and two others, who were sentenced to two years in prison and 120 hours of community service respectively, would team up and cut the locks of bicycles in West-Flemish train stations. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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