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Belgium in Brief: Belgian Man Says ‘Maybe’ A Lot

Belgium’s PM Alexander De Croo took to Facebook live last night to try and answer questions from across Belgium on coronavirus.

The full story is below, but here are the basics.

Will terraces open on 1 May?

Maybe, virus permitting.

Will people be able to travel this summer?

The ban will be lifted “immediately” if it is no longer necessary… So, maybe.

Can large-scale open air activities be organised from 1 April?

Events with about 50 people would be allowed again from 1 April, as per the Consultative Committee’s timeline – so, yes? – if the situation evolves well. 

Ah, no. That’s a maybe too.

Ok, it’s a lot of maybes, but it’s at least progress of some sort.

That’s what I’m telling myself, anyways, even if it does leave me with a few questions (and readers with more, no doubt):

  • What about the other sectors left with no answer? (wedding season is approaching)
  • Why is Belgium having so many little issues with vaccinations? Is this unusual?
  • What do you wish you knew more information on?

Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

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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. Boost for Belgium’s campaign: more time between Pfizer vaccinations

Belgium decided that the standard interval between two Pfizer injections will be extended to 35 days (five weeks), during the Interministerial Health Conference on Wednesday.

The decision to postpone the second shot means that the country’s vaccination campaign will be sped up, according to a press release by the Vaccination Taskforce. Read More.

2. Terraces, travel, festivals: De Croo answers Belgians’ Covid questions

Almost a year after Belgium first went into lockdown, Prime Minister Alexander De Croo answered people’s questions about the coronavirus situation over the coming months.

In a Facebook Live on Wednesday evening, De Croo recalled the importance of vaccination, and answered questions about the hospitality industry, vaccination passports and summer events. Read more.

3. Two Antwerp police officers arrested in connection with organised crime

Two officers from Antwerp police were arrested in the series of raids that took place on Tuesday following the authorities’ cracking of encrypted messaging service Sky ECC.

One is a member of the DOT team, or drug support team, and the other is his wife, who also works for Antwerp police, according to reporting from HLN. Read More.

4. Temporary shortage leaves Brussels vaccine centre unavailable ’til 2022

Issues continue to crop up in vaccination centres in Brussels, after the latest one left people temporarily unable to book appointments to get vaccinated in 2021 due to a shortage of vaccines in the Pacheco centre.

While there are no issues for people who want to come in for their second dose or people who already booked last week, everyone else who received an invite to get vaccinated is currently being told they cannot register for an appointment in the coming year, when this is not actually the case. Read More.

5. Revealed: early vaccines from Pfizer were below specifications

Some of the early batches of the Covid-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer/BioNTech – the first to be approved in Europe – contained lower levels of intact mRNA than expected, leaked documents have revealed.

A report on the problem has been published by the British Medical Journal (BMJ), which received some of the documents obtained illicitly from a hack of the computer system of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) that took place in December last year. Read more.

6. EU tourism countries to open to vaccinated or tested travellers from May

Several countries in southern Europe popular with tourists, such as Spain, Portugal and Greece, have stated that they will reopen their borders to travellers who have been vaccinated or have tested negative for the coronavirus from May.

As the European “vaccination passport” is expected to be ready before the summer, a number of countries whose economy heavily relies on tourism are preparing to reopen. Read More.

7. Bad weather in Belgium will continue through the weekend

The bad weather in Belgium is expected to continue through the weekend, according to the latest forecast by the Royal Meteorological Institute (RMI).

Rain will pass over the country from west to east on Thursday morning, followed by a succession of clear skies and more showers, with the possibility of thunder. The wind is expected to strengthen throughout the morning, reaching up to as much as 100 kilometres per hour at the coast. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times