Belgium in Brief: What The Consultative Committee Moving Means
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Belgium in Brief: What The Consultative Committee Moving Means

Credit: Belga

Oh, would you look at that? The consultative committee might be happening tomorrow now.

Maybe. Right now everything seems a little unclear, so let me explain.

By all accounts, the committee was meant to meet next week to evaluate the country’s epidemiological situation and discuss how to relax the rules in April, but with figures rising, the plan set out less than 2 weeks ago is looking less stable.

The ambitious timeline kicked off on 8 March with a change in outdoor gathering rules, but by April religious services, events, and amateur sports could restart in a limited fashion and amusement parks were set to reopen.

I would love to go into this with greater detail, but right now it’s pretty murky. Walloon press is widely reporting that the meeting has been moved, but the official line is staying silent.

So is the meeting actually going to be held tomorrow? When we know, you’ll know.

Now for the inevitable question, one way or another.

Was the timeline too much, too fast? Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

Yesterday’s question on the use of English in Belgium sparked some debate too – so let’s keep that one going, too. Let me know what you think here.

BUT WAIT, one last thing: Want news from The Brussels Times in your inbox every morning? Sign up for The Recap, a free daily newsletter launching later this month containing all the stories you need to know from the day before. It goes great with your morning coffee. 

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. EMA will decide on AstraZeneca vaccine today

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is due to issue an updated opinion on AstraZeneca’s vaccine this Thursday.

In recent days, several countries have suspended the use of the anti-Covid vaccine produced by the Anglo-Swedish pharmaceutical company following cases of thrombosis. The EMA reiterated on Tuesday that there was no indication that the vaccines caused the blood clots. Read More.

2. AstraZeneca: Belgium wants Europe’s growing vaccine surplus

Belgium has asked pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca for the surplus vaccine doses from the countries that have temporarily put the company’s jabs on hold over recent concerns about possible side effects.

“I have contacted AstraZeneca and asked whether it is possible to make use of the extras, if there are any,” Flemish Health Minister Wouter Beke said in the Flemish Parliament on Wednesday. “If we can get them, we will use them in our strategy.” Read more.

3. Flemish schools require masks for more primary students

Face masks will be required for all primary school students in their fifth and sixth year, and the return of secondary school students aged 14 to 16 to the classroom fulltime has been postponed until after the Easter holidays.

Previously, face masks were only required for primary school students in years five and six if someone in their bubble tested positive for the coronavirus. Read More.

4. EU ‘vaccination passports’ for travel this summer: how they will work

On Wednesday afternoon, the European Commission presented its proposal for the “Digital Green Certificate” – so-called vaccination passports – to make free travel in the EU possible again this summer.

To avoid discrimination, the certificate will provide proof that a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, has natural immunity from it, or has a recent negative test result, according to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Read More.

5. Vaccination certificates not enough to save the summer, aviation sector warns

While the European aviation sector is satisfied with the Commission’s proposal to introduce a vaccination certificate, a “wider restart plan” is needed to save the summer. Read more.

6. Hidden cameras and whispered answers, police shut down two driving schools for fraud

Two driving schools in Antwerp have been closed by police because it looks as though they were helping new drivers do exactly that, using a complicated system of hidden cameras and secret communication devices, according to Belga news agency. Read More.

7. Belgian cheese order sent into outer space for American astronaut

A Flemish family business has received an order for its cheese from a very surprising location: outer space.

American astronaut Shannon Walker, who works on the International Space Station ISS, has asked for some cheese from a farm in Rumbeke, West Flanders, to be sent to her for the second time since she started living on the station at the end of last year. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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