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Belgium in Brief: Bad Weather Makes Me Homesick

Credit: Belga

I’m seldom one to complain about the weather in Belgium, as it’s generally far better than what I knew growing up.

Yet, when it takes on this kind of terrible, unpredictable chaos as we have experienced over the past few days, I can’t help but feel a little reminded of my home.

I’m from the West of Scotland, after all, so I am pretty familiar with the current “RainSunSnowSunWindSnow, eight times a day” situation.

It’s a special kind of chaos: not cold enough for you to worry about freezing pipes, but not warm enough to take out the summer clothing.

Perhaps you’re from a warmer climate where this is simply considered bad weather, but trust me, Belgian weather is positively delightful when you grew up experiencing 20 full days of sunshine a year.

So, what’s been your take on the weather of the past few days (and likely the week ahead), compared to your home? Did you reach for the shorts the moment the sun came out? Or have you been brewing an extra hot coffee while you wait for June? Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

Got any photos of the snow in your part of the country? Send them to @johnstonjules & they might be included in a Brussels Times video report.

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 containing all the stories you need to know from the day before. It goes great with your morning coffee. 

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1. Self-tests available in pharmacies from today: how does it work?

Pharmacies in Belgium will start selling self-tests from today, in an effort to better identify coronavirus cases in the country’s so-called “testing strategy 2.0.”

Along with the regular PCR tests and rapid tests, self-tests are one of Belgium’s so called “three lines of defence” to help control the virus, on top of the regular existing measures such as keeping your distance and wearing a face mask. Read more.

2. Hour-long waits to register for Belgium’s vaccination reserve list

The online platform QVax, which people in Belgium can use to register for the vaccination reserve list, is already seeing waiting lists of over an hour after it launched this morning.

Using the new QVax platform, people can indicate at what times they will be available to go to their local vaccination centre on short notice in the coming weeks, in case the centre has some leftover doses at the end of the day. Read more.

3. ‘Courts can’t keep up’: Violators of coronavirus measures won’t face court until third offence

People who do not comply with the coronavirus fighting measures will only be taken to court following a third violation to help decrease the workload of the courts in Belgium.

Previously, offenders would have to face trial after a second infringement, however that led to a workload that the correctional courts could no longer keep up with. Read More.

4. Dozens of young people party on train to Brussels: investigation opened

An investigation has been opened into images circulating on social media of dozens of partying young people packed on a train going to Brussels this weekend.

The video shows a large group of young people dancing and singing in and outside several carriages of a train, not keeping the required social distance, and most of them not wearing a face mask. Read more.

5. Vandenbroucke seeks advice on privileges for vaccinated people

The Federal Minister of Public Health Frank Vandenbroucke has asked Belgium’s coronavirus commission for new advice regarding possible relaxations for people who have already been vaccinated.

In the following days, the coronavirus commission will look into what advice can be given. Meanwhile, the GEMS coronavirus expert group will analyse the relationship between the vaccination campaign, the testing strategy, and ethical aspects. Read More.

6. Only foie gras producer and 11 fur farms in Flanders close doors

The only foie gras producer and 11 of the 16 fur farms in Flanders have applied for closure, according to the cabinet of Flemish Minister for Animal Welfare Ben Weyts.

“Fur-farming is still profitable, but in Flanders, we have decided that we consider animal welfare more important,” Weyts said in a press release. “Killing animals just for their fur or using force-feeding are outdated practices.” Read More.

7. Over 27 tonnes of cocaine intercepted in the port of Antwerp

Customs have intercepted a total of 27.64 tonnes of cocaine in the port of Antwerp over the past 42 days.

The seizures are directly linked to the investigation into the Sky ECC company and its encrypted phones, the Antwerp public prosecutor’s office said on Monday. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times