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Belgium in Brief: Let Us Go To The Bar !/?

Credit: Belga

Every time there’s a consultative committee meeting, I write a newsletter saying it’s going to be a big one – and it often is – but humour me when I say this one is REALLY going to change some things.

Probably, at least, because today is the day we might get to know if we will be pleading with the government to “Let us go to the bar?”

Or telling our friends “Let’s go to the bar!”

Sub out “bar” with any cultural activity (or anything else currently on the agenda) and it still makes my point. There’s a lot hanging on this meeting for many different people.

We’re facing down another consultative committee meeting with little to go on outside of educated guesswork, but it’s likely that the return of Belgium’s HORECA sector is up for debate.

On top of that, the meeting is expected to touch on schools, travel and culture. Some have already been given a rough idea of their prognosis, but that’s far from a guarantee.

Even with the best justification, any deviation from the expected (but not promised) timeline is going to be tough for many to swallow.

Did you see this coming? Have you already booked somewhere for 1 May?

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 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. ‘Respect commitments that were made,’ ministers say ahead of Consultative Committee

Representatives of the federal government, the Communities, and the Regions met on Wednesday for the first time since the announcement of the Easter ‘pause’ to discuss new relaxations and measures.

Ministers from the different levels of government, who will have to decide on various issues, said the commitments that were made during previous meetings must be respected, most notably the reopening of the hospitality sector, which was planned for 1 May. Read more.

2. ‘Taking the pressure off’: relax rules for outdoor activities, says Van Ranst

Belgium’s coronavirus figures are objectively not good enough for the Consultative Committee to relax measures, but allowing some outdoor activities could take the pressure off people, according to virologist Marc Van Ranst.

As the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care has risen to 945, and infection figures are stabilising at a too-high plateau, “normally, you cannot relax measures,” Van Ranst said on Twitter. Read more.

3. Almost 3,000 entrepreneurs sign an open letter to the Consultative Committee

Nearly 3,000 Walloon entrepreneurs have signed an open letter to the Consultative Committee, which is meeting on Wednesday.

At the initiative of UWE, UCM, SNI and the Walloon chambers of commerce, which drafted the letter, they are asking for trust and to move towards an approach that is “positive rather than coercive, transversal rather than sectoral.” Read More.

4. Vaccination rollout: How Belgium is keeping up with its neighbours

The vaccination campaign in Belgium reached a milestone on 12 April, as more than one-fifth of the adult population has received at least one coronavirus vaccine.

But what does that mean in the context of Belgium’s neighbours? As different countries vaccinate their population at different speeds and using different strategies, it can be difficult to keep track of where Belgium’s vaccination figures fall in the broader context. Read more.

5. Should you wear a mask when cycling? Some experts say yes

Some experts say you should be wearing a facemask when cycling during the current coronavirus measures, including the Groupe de Recherche et d’Action des Cyclistes Quotidiens (GRACQ).

“Although there are currently few requirements, GRACQ recommends this health precautionary measure in certain cases,” says the association, which represents cyclists in French-speaking Belgium. Read More.

6. Brussels cafés take AB InBev to court over rent

As the Consultative Committee today discusses the possible relaxation of the closure of all bars and cafes, a number of establishments owned by the brewer AB InBev have started legal action against their landlord regarding the rent they are being asked to pay.

The bars have been closed by law since November, and the tenants have been prevented by law from carrying out the business intended by the lease. Read More.

7. Belgium wants more trains in the morning, evening and weekend

The federal government wants the SNCB to run more early and late trains, and to extend its weekend offer. A minimum reception in stations would also be imposed, according to a list of demands that would be included in the new management agreement, obtained by De Morgen.

The list was recently approved by the Federal Council of Ministers. The management contract lays down which services the SNCB must provide in the next ten years in exchange for its subsidies. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times