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Belgium in Brief: Brussels Toilets Circling the Drain

Coronavirus has forced everyone to do things they don’t want to do.

From the objectively tragic (like not seeing family for over a year) to the also-disheartening-but-you-look-like-a-jerk-if-you-complain (indefinitely postponing your wedding), we’ve all had to do something we didn’t want to as a result of this global pandemic.

Some people were even forced to use a public toilet.

Before the pandemic shut them down, bars and restaurants were where people headed when they needed to use a restroom while out and about. But now that this is no longer an option, the public toilet cubicles throughout Brussels have become vital.

If only they were usable.

Students who set out to clean them for a school project found them in so terrible a condition, it’s no wonder they were avoided whenever possible. But with the reopening of the hospitality sector still a ways off, should Brussels invest more energy (and bleach – lots of bleach) in making its public toilets accessible for all?

What do you think?

Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter. Or @lyons_hallie, since she wrote it today.

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1. How meeting in ‘outdoor bubbles’ of 10 works now

Following the decision of the Consultative Committee last Friday to relax some measures, people can meet outside in groups of ten again this week.

“A lot of people have been looking forward to this, as everyone longs for more social contact,” said Yves Stevens of the National Crisis Centre. Read More.

2. ‘Out of the question’ to relax teleworking rules, says Vandenbroucke

It is “out of the question” that Belgium will start relaxing teleworking measures, according to Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, who even announced stricter controls.

Amid calls to allow employees to go back to work at least one day a week, Vandenbroucke stated that this is not an option yet, considering the current epidemiological situation. Read more.

3. Vaccinations appointments cancelled after concerns over AstraZeneca

Belgium’s vaccination centres have seen a recent increase in the number of appointments being cancelled because of concerns over the suspension by Denmark of the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Flemish agency for health AZG has confirmed an increase in cancellations, but was unable to provide figures. Read More.

4. ‘Excrement lying on the floor, no toilet seats’: Brussels’ public restroom crisis

Brussels’ “unusable” public toilets have come under renewed scrutiny in the midst of the coronavirus crisis after a video emerged of three young men who opted to clean a cubicle for a school project.

“It was disgusting, the toilet was just unusable. Although the toilets are reportedly being cleaned by the city, the walls were black with the smoke of people who had been smoking inside, some days there was excrement lying on the floor.” Read More.

5. ‘Benefits outweigh the risks’: Belgium continues to use AstraZeneca vaccine

Belgium will continue to administer AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine, decided Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, following advice from the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

On Thursday, several countries, including Denmark and Austria, decided to pause their administering of the AstraZeneca vaccine while a study into the development of blood clots is being carried out. Read more.

6. Legally ban spanking and slapping children, Flemish socialist party urges

The Flemish socialist party sp.a has introduced a bill to legally ban the corporal punishment of children – including a slap on the backside or a pat on the cheek- to prohibit systematic violence by parents.

This type of violence against children, which includes any punishment in which physical force is used and intended to cause some degree of pain or discomfort, is banned in all European Union member states except in three countries, including Belgium. Read More.

7. Price of petrol rises above €1.5 per litre from Saturday

A full tank of petrol will cost more at the pump from Saturday, the Federal Public Economy Service announced on Friday.

The maximum price of 95 (E10) will increase to €1.51 per litre, taking it over the symbolic threshold of one and a half euros for the first time since mid-January 2020 (14 months ago). It will also exceed the maximum price for diesel. Read More.

Helen Lyons
The Brussels Times