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Belgium in Brief: Schrödinger’s Terraces

Credit: Belga/Pixabay

Belgium’s terraces are currently both allowed to open on 1 May and not allowed to open on 1 May, depending on where you look, and how much stock you put in rumour.

This current situation is nowhere more evident than in the Liège province, which made headlines across Belgium this morning when the news broke that the province would be allowing terraces to reopen, even if the Consultative Committee said otherwise.

Now, in principle, this is a big move, openly disregarding the (…pause for dramatic effect…) will of the country. 

Only, it’s not.

In fact, all this is currently disobeying is the rumour/suggestion that Belgium might not stick to the 1 May reopening set out a few months ago. The same rumour-mill that led me to shave my head a week before the barbers were briefly told to reopen (still not got over that).

Unfortunately, there was never a guarantee that bars would reopen on 1 May, and until the meeting tomorrow, we have no real idea what’s going to happen.

Even the meetings held ahead of time have historically proven to be little help in predicting the outcome, as the Committee can and does make calls on its own.

What it’s easy to see, however, is that Belgium is facing a difficult meeting.

The weather is getting better, the rulebreaking outdoor parties are getting worse, and people are getting fed up.

How do we get out of this?

Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

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1. What to expect from tomorrow’s Consultative Committee

Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet again on Wednesday to discuss possible relaxations of the coronavirus measures after the Easter holidays.

The Consultative Committee will meet in person from 9:00 AM, and its decisions will be announced during a press conference afterwards, the cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed to The Brussels Times. Read more.

2. Liège says terraces can open on 1 May, regardless of Consultative Committee outcome

The HoReCa sector in Liège province has been told it can reopen terraces on 1 May, regardless of if the Consultative Committee decides to postpone the reopening date to later in the year.

This means – in theory – that bars, restaurants and hotels in the province could start serving customers again due to the decision by the governor of Liège and a number of mayors from the province, De Morgen reports. Read more.

3. People between 30 and 64 in Belgium most dissatisfied with social contacts

People in Belgium are experiencing a high level of dissatisfaction with their social life, in particular those aged between 30 and 64, according to public health institute Sciensano’s latest Covid-19 Health Survey.

The study, which questioned 20 000 people between 18 and 25 March 2021, found that 63% of the adult population is dissatisfied with their current social contacts and that people are particularly struggling to abide by the rule which limits people’s close contact to one person. Read More.

4. Brussels GPs can now vaccinate patients who can’t get to centres

General practitioners in the Brussels-Capital Region will be able to vaccinate patients who are unable to travel to a centre themselves from Tuesday, following a training session on Monday, said Inge Neven, head of the Brussels health inspectorate. Read more.

5. Self-employed in Belgium to get free sessions with psychologists

The federal government has decided to give eight free sessions with a psychologist to self-employed people who are “suffering from this crisis,” the Minister for the Self-Employed David Clarinval announced on Tuesday.

Clarinval, who has been working on this alongside Federal Public Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke, emphasised that financial aid for this group remains the priority, but noted that the need for mental health support has increased. Read More.

6. Civil suit to be filed against man for clubbing a badger in Limburg

A civil suit will be filed against a man who was photographed clubbing a badger nearly to death in a field in Alken, Limburg.

In Belgium, the badger is an unconditionally protected species and can therefore never be hunted or abused. Badgers have had legal protection in national and regional law since 1973. The species was initially protected by not opening the hunting season, but is now fully protected throughout the country. Read More.

7. Belgium to ban soy and palm oil in biofuels from 2022

Soy and palm oil will be banned from biofuels from 2022 as part of an initiative to eliminate deforestation, the Federal Minister for Environment and Climate Zakia Khattabi announced on Tuesday.

Khattabi said that, following the examples of Denmark, France, and the Netherlands, biofuels made from palm oil will no longer be allowed both on the Belgian market as well as in the transport sector, whilst soy will be banned as a raw material for transport biofuels from 2023. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times