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Belgium in Brief: ‘Four Weeks Of Hell’

It’s difficult to write a newsletter roundup when you don’t know if the news will have changed by the time you go to publish.

Today’s meeting of Belgium’s Consultative Committee started at 9:00 AM this morning, and by the time I finally got around to writing this intro, we have nothing but speculation, predictions, and hope.

According to recent research, the best outcome from a psychological perspective might be to properly lock down Belgium, at least for a bit.

“A hard but short lockdown is the best option from an epidemiological perspective, but also from a psychological perspective it is the only chance to still motivate the population,” Professor Inez Germeys, a member of the “Psychology and Corona” working group, which advises the government, explained today.

Yesterday’s BIB question asked readers if they thought locking down now was a good idea, and the response was mixed.

Locking down now gained some support as a quick solution to a mounting problem, but critics wondered if it would be effective as long as vaccination strategy continued to stutter. Have your say here.

As for a new question, I’d like to point you to a quote by a Belgian economist circulating this morning: “Four weeks of hell better than four seasons of purgatory”

Would you rather we continued in this limited freedom for a few months, or hope that four weeks of nothing could make things better, faster?

Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

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1. Consultative Committee will announce latest measures from 1:20 PM

The Consultative Committee will announce the latest changes to Belgium’s coronavirus fighting measures during a press conference from 1:20 PM, according to the cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Read more.

2. Contact professions will close again from Saturday: reports

Credit: PxHere

Belgium’s Consultative Committee has reportedly decided to shut down contact professions again from Saturday.

Non-medical contact professions, such as hairdressers and beauticians, will have to close again, according to reports in several media. This rule would contradict statements by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo in January, when he had said that once hairdressers were allowed to reopen, they would stay open. Read more

3. Stricter rules today will already improve Belgium’s figures ‘in a week,’ says expert

If the Consultative Committee decides to implement strict coronavirus fighting measures today, they will already have a positive effect on Belgium’s figures in a week, according to biostatistician Geert Molenberghs. Read More.

4. Antwerp cafe owner sentenced for human trafficking and running a brothel

Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

The 75-year-old manager of the notorious Antwerp café ‘t Keteltje has been sentenced to four years in prison for human trafficking and running a brothel.

The sentence also comes with a partially deferred fine of €32,000, according to reporting by De Standaard. Read More.

5. More STIB employees suspended as fraud investigation continues

More STIB employees have been suspended as part of the ongoing investigation into fraud at the Brussels public transport company.

11 employees have already been terminated and an external audit was launched after an anonymous former employee told the French-language paper La Capitale about rampant abuse of the clocking-in system. Read more.

6. Belgium to receive first 76,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines from mid-April

Belgium’s first 76,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine will be delivered from mid-April, vaccination task force spokesperson Gudrun Briat said on Wednesday. Read More.

7. Phishing in 2020 cost Belgians €34 million, says regulator

The victims of financial fraud by phishing lost a total of €34 million last year, according to figures issued by the financial industry regulator Febelfin. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times