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Belgium in Brief: What’s Your Hobby?

Credit: Belga

It’s almost the weekend. I’m not talking about coronavirus for another day – I just can’t.

There’s news on AstraZeneca, and you can see that here. Don’t worry, we still have all you need on that front.

But there’s more to talk about in the world, so today Belgium in Brief is going for the unapologetically lighter news. The sun’s out, I don’t fear I’ll freeze if I go outside, and I’m looking for something uplifting.

What’s been your new hobby? What’s filling the time you used to use to commute?

Personally, I’ve actually been exercising with a degree of regularity I’ve never had before, and trying to explore the local area a bit more. It’s not much, but it’s something.

I even managed to run a 5K for the first time a few days before I turned 30. I’d never tried, I just assumed I couldn’t.

What about you?

Did you try your hand at baking after binging the Great British Bake Off? Get really into cooking?

Did you start running and realise it wasn’t as bad as you feared?

Or did you do something far more out there?

Learn to juggle? Brew your own mead? Get really into board games?

Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

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1. Brussels has started vaccination of high-risk patients against coronavirus

The Brussels-Capital Region has started the vaccination of its inhabitants with co-morbidities against the coronavirus, the Region’s Common Community Commission (COCOM) said on Friday.

The region is in vaccination phase 1b, which covers people who are over the age of 65, as well as people between 18 and 64 years old, who have been prioritised as they run a greater risk of ending up in hospital when infected with the virus. Read more.

2. Certain under-56s can still get AstraZeneca’s vaccine, if they want to

Certain people under 56 years old who explicitly state that they want to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca’s vaccine can still get the jab, despite Belgium’s decision to temporarily stop using it for that age group.

Following the decision to only give the AstraZeneca vaccine to over-55s, about 6,000 people in Flanders and several hundred in the French-speaking Community who were already scheduled to receive the shot have to be contacted, so their appointment can be rebooked. Read more.

3. Belgium records highest number of daily hospital admissions since November

On Wednesday, 332 Covid-19 patients were admitted to hospital in one day, the highest number since mid-November, according to figures by the national health institute Sciensano.

The number of new hospital admissions per day was at its highest since the second wave on 19 November, when 363 people with Covid-19 were admitted on the same day. Read More.

4. Brussels initiative aims to preserve the use of non-Belgian languages

A new initiative by a Brussels university is attempting to better understand and preserve the use of non-Belgian languages in the city through a new interactive platform.

Organised by VUB, the e-platform aims to better track the use and training of heritage language speakers – people who are exposed to a certain language spoken at home or by relatives, but who are educated in and primarily speak another language. Read more.

5. Quarter more employees working abroad for Belgian companies

The number of employees working abroad for companies in Belgium increased by 25% in 2020, according to a report from HR company SD Worx on Friday.

It reported a 16% increase in the number of Belgians working abroad and a 34% rise in the number of employees of other nationalities working across the borders for businesses based in Belgium. Read More.

6. ‘Show will go on’: Brussels theatre to open its doors end-April with or without relaxations

The Royal Flemish Theatre (KVS) in Brussels has said it will be opening its door on 26 April for audiences of up to 50 people, even if the coronavirus fighting measures are not relaxed to allow such events.

Arguing that people are in need of connection and that culture is essential in giving this to people, its artistic director Michael De Cock said on Radio 1 that culture can be part of the solution, rather than being a problem. Read More.

7. Far-right politician Van Grieken’s Twitter account blocked for ‘violating site’s rules’

Leader of the far-right Vlaams Belang party Tom Van Grieken’s Twitter account has been blocked by the website after he published a post saying a member of the socialist Vooruit party of decorating his house “with posters of mass murderers” on the platform.

The tweet in question, which dates back to September last year, was a selfie of Stef Vonk showing a drawing of Joseph Stalin hanging near his toilet, to which Van Grieken added the caption: “Is this that new Vooruit movement?” Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times