Belgium in Brief: Open Terraces For Minimal Easter Mischief?
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Belgium in Brief: Open Terraces For Minimal Easter Mischief?

Picture this. It’s sunny, and you’re sitting outside with a few friends having a drink.

Then someone coughs, but the entire square doesn’t go as dead quiet as a saloon in an old Western movie when the hero walks in.

According to some, that world (well, maybe minus the Clint Eastwood-esque reactions) could be the one we live in soon – potentially in the coming weeks.

This weekend, mayor of Antwerp Bart De Wever threw his weight behind a plan to allow businesses to serve outdoors on their terraces by the Easter Holidays, as he believes it could prevent people from gathering in parks and cities during the break.

Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon made the same point during a VTM News broadcast on Sunday, saying “by putting those people (who gather in the parks) on the terraces of the catering industry, the manager of the restaurant will make sure that it is done in accordance with the measures.”

But, of course, not everyone is so happy with the idea.

Both Mohamed Ridouani, the Leuven mayor, and Mathias De Clercq, Mayor of Ghent, said reopening terraces could be a difficult issue, adding that the evolution of the virus must be considered to avoid the third wave.

Virologist Steven Van Gucht (earlier this month) was even more direct – making it very clear that, even though people would be sitting outdoors, the risk of transmitting the virus still exists.

“When talking with a person around the same table for maybe an hour, there is still a very real chance that you will transmit the virus,” he said.

So what do you think?
Do we need somewhere to go? 
Is a terrace that place? 
How do you think the rules are going so far ( like larger outdoor bubbles?) 

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. Every adult in Flanders should receive a vaccine by 11 July, says Wouter Beke

Flemish Public Health Minister Wouter Beke said that every person living in Flanders aged over 18 years old should receive a dose of a coronavirus vaccine by 11 July this year, providing everything goes to plan.

He emphasised that if the deliveries of the vaccines run smoothly, every adult in Flanders will receive at least one shot by this date, he said during the ‘De zevende dag’ program on Sunday. Read More.

2. Belgium starts vaccinating general population today: how ‘reserve lists’ will work

As Belgium starts vaccinating the general population from today, a system is being set up for people to register for accelerated vaccination in case of leftover doses in vaccination centres.

The system has to ensure that not a single vaccination shot will be lost or thrown away by allowing people to register to be vaccinated quickly, if there are leftover vaccines, and is supposed to be ready before the end of March. Read more.

3. Relaxations in education and extracurricular activities start today

The first series of relaxations will be made in education starting from Monday, mainly aiming to ease restrictions for younger people, from those in primary education to those in universities and colleges.

From Monday onwards, students in higher education, including universities and colleges, can choose to follow part of their classes face-to-face, after being forced into distanced learning since autumn last year. Read More.

4. Obesity, drug abuse and depression in Flanders increased during coronavirus crisis

General practitioners in Flanders diagnosed an increase in cases of depression since June last year and a higher number of patients with drug abuse problems, anxiety, obesity, and impotence since the start of the pandemic. Read More.

5. Netherlands stops use of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after reports of side effects

The Netherlands has joined other countries in temporarily stopping the administration of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine after the country’s Medicines Evaluation Board expressed concerns about possible side effects.

The country will not carry out new vaccination with this vaccine for the next two weeks, until Sunday 28 March, in light of more information being reported about the possible side effects, the Dutch Ministry of Health announced. Read more.

6. Telenet confirms launch of Belgian 5G network

Belgian provider Telenet has confirmed the rollout of its 5G network by announcing Ericsson, Nokia and Google Cloud as partners in the deployment of the network.

The companies were chosen “after a thorough selection procedure, taking into consideration technological, operational, financial, security and sustainability criteria,” Telenet said in a press release on Monday. Read More.

7. Police caught 19 car thieves in Brussels in February

An abnormally high number of thefts from cars and vans in Brussels so far this year prompted police to launch a special operation aimed at stopping them last month.

In February, they caught 19 thieves in the act and arrested them. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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