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Belgium in Brief: A Positive End To The Week

Coronavirus figures are continuing to rise. That’s a fact. 

Belgium is “entering a difficult phase in the pandemic,” according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht. Agreed.

“It is tough and we are all tired of it.” Oh yes.

But here’s the bit you could be forgiven for getting excited about:

“I really believe that when we have beaten this wave, the worst will be behind us. The vaccine and spring are in sight,” Van Gucht.

Ambitious, maybe, but it’s Friday. We can allow ourselves some optimism. 

While the figures continue to increase, the rise is no longer as sharp as it was a week ago, and could slowly be turning, according to Van Gucht. “We may reach the peak in the number of new infections within a week, with your help.”

“Now, the care sector is counting on our help. We are now the ones who can take care of our carers,” he said. “They are counting on us to slow down the infections.”

Van Gucht stressed that small changes in people’s behaviours can have a major impact on the hospitals, both positive and negative. “What we choose to do right now can have a huge impact on the further course of the pandemic.”

“So, curse every once in a while, hang in there, and together we will get out of this.”

And for the question, let’s go positive. How are you beating the covid blues?

Trying to do pullups is killing me, but it’s something to do.

Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

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. Over 12,250 people sign petition against Belgian ban on non-essential travel

An online petition to lift the ban on non-essential travel to and from Belgium passed 12,250 signatures on Friday.

The arguments point to a lack of proportionality of the measure. It is also noted that the ban on non-essential travel from 27 January to 1 March has been extended several times, with the latest deadline being 18 April. Read more.

2. EU fast-tracks procedure to approve ‘vaccination passports’ by June

The European Parliament has launched an accelerated procedure to fast-track the approval of the Digital Green Certificate – commonly known as vaccination passports – for safe travel within the EU before summer. Read more.

3. Denmark extends AstraZeneca suspension for three more weeks

The Danish health authority is to extend its suspension of use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for a further three weeks, director Soren Brostrom announced in Copenhagen today.

Denmark was the first country to raise concerns that some patients who had received the AZ vaccine later developed blood clots. The country stopped using the vaccine until it could look into whether there was a causal link. Read More.

4. ‘Disgusting’: Brussels’ unauthorised Banksy exhibition comes under fire

A new exhibition in Brussels, ‘Banksy: the Brussels show’, is drawing a lot of criticism from the street-art world as it puts up authentic works for sale without the artist’s permission.

The Deodato Art gallery in the Brussels’ Rue Saint-Jean was inaugurated with the opening of the exhibition on Wednesday, which displays a total of 17 works – most of them limited edition screenprints – by the anonymous street artist. Read More.

5. Employees in Belgium will receive paid leave to get vaccinated

Employees in Belgium are entitled to paid leave to attend a coronavirus vaccination appointment, the Federal Parliament unanimously agreed on Thursday evening.

Aside from providing this short period of leave for both shots, the bill also states that employees will be reimbursed for the journey to and from the vaccination centre. Read more.

6. Bike path to Brussels Airport completed

The bike path connecting Brussels Airport to the cycle highway F3 between Brussels and Leuven has been completed.

The construction – initially expected to last four months – took about six months to complete. Under normal circumstances, around 70,000 passengers and 24,000 employees commute to the airport every day, and the hope is that some of them will now choose to do so via bike. Read More.

7. Belgium switches to summer time this weekend

Clocks will move forward this weekend in Belgium as the country makes the switch to summer time, or daylight saving time, in what might be the final such instance.

In the early hours of Sunday (28 March) at 2:00 AM, the time will change to 3:00 AM. The result is the loss of an hour of sleep, but brighter evenings moving forward. Read More.

Maïthé Chini & Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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