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Belgium in Brief: (Not) In Theatres Near You

Credit: Belga

You know that feeling when a movie franchise you love makes a fantastic announcement, but you’ve been let down before, and don’t want to get your hopes up again?

That’s how I feel right now looking at the latest measures in Belgium.

Honestly, the past few films have been a bit disappointing, and the Easter pause was a big let down for many, but it’s not entirely surprising.

Due to many things outside of its control, the studio producing this ‘New Normal’ has a history of missing deadlines, overpromising, or just being a little vague.

I mean, sure, I’m a diehard fan of their previous work (have you seen “being allowed to go to the shops” – love it) but I don’t want to get my hopes up quite yet – even if I am a sucker for a good trilogy.

Part 1 – despite lacking an official name – looks quite convincing: schools, travel with restrictions, being outdoors with more people, test events. I’m here for it.

Release date: Staggered

From there, however, I start to get a little concerned.

The First Milestone is a strong second movie. It’s got everything you want for the summer, but it comes with a catch. It can only come to pass when seven out of ten people aged over 65 have received their first shot, and there must also be a “permanently improved” situation in the intensive care units.

But if that does happen, we’re talking terraces, no more curfew, more cuddle contacts & new rules for events.

Release date: “Around 8 May”

Next up comes The Second Milestone, but it along with it, a similar caveat. It only comes to pass when almost all people over 65 and people with underlying disorders have received a shot.

Once this happens, more social contacts and events will be possible again, and more can be done indoors. An important condition is that the situation in the intensive care units is “normalised.”

That’s a hell of a finale.

Release date: “Early June”

Here’s the thing – I WANT to be proven wrong in my fears.

I want to be surprised by the-new-updated-timeline-the-sequel-back-for-more-this-time-it’s-personal-with-a-vengeance (working title).

I want people to tell me “told you so” as we sit on a terrace drinking some fruity beer so sweet it makes my teeth hurt a little.

Come on Belgium, surprise me.

Thoughts? Got a better name for the movie? Would rather be drinking Aperol when you tell me I’m wrong?

Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

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1. Belgium announces ‘cautious’ relaxations after Easter pause

Belgium will start relaxing some of its coronavirus-fighting measures after the so-called “Easter pause,” announced Prime Minister Alexander De Croo during a press conference on Wednesday.

“We, with the Consultative Committee, have opted for a cautious and realistic approach, relying heavily on trust,” De Croo said. “If you look at the situation in the hospitals, you cannot say that we have received much good news in recent days.” Read more.

2. How travel will work after Belgium lifts its non-essential travel ban

As expected, the Consultative Committee announced on Wednesday that the ban on non-essential travel to and from Belgium will be lifted on Monday 19 April.

Prime Minister Alexander De Croo made clear when announcing the lifting of the ban, however, that all travel for non-essential reasons remains strictly discouraged. Read more.

3. Reopening of terraces: 20 million pints ready for 8 May, says AB Inbev

From 8 May, the hospitality sector in Belgium can re-open its terraces, the coronavirus situation permitting, the Consultative Committee announced on Wednesday.

This is just over three weeks away, but the brewing process of a pint can take up to four to six weeks. However, brewer AB Inbev has told Het Nieuwsblad there will be 20 million beers on 8 May. Read More.

4. What Belgium’s two ‘milestones’ for relaxations mean

Besides a decreased number of patients in intensive care, two “milestones” in Belgium’s vaccination strategy should also lead to further relaxations, the Consultative Committee decided on Wednesday.

Following the restart of schools and the lifting of the non-essential travel ban on 19 April, and the end of the “Easter pause” on 26 April, the next relaxations will be based on milestones in the vaccination campaign, announced Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Read more.

5. Ghent’s city centre to be under camera surveillance for six months

Between May and October this year, Ghent’s city centre will be placed under camera surveillance to help the police enable crowd control, according to Mayor Mathias De Clercq.

He announced on Monday that he will allow the local police to watch several of the busiest squares in the city for six months, Het Nieuwsblad and De Morgen report. Read More.

6. VUB guest professor Djalali moved out of solitary, says Amnesty

Ahmadreza Djalali, the Swedish-Iranian professor who guested at the Free University (VUB) in Brussels, has been moved out of solitary confinement in Iran, according to Amnesty International.

Professor Djalali, an expert on disaster medicine, was arrested while visiting a conference in Iran in 2016 on charges of espionage. The charges were an invention, his supporters argue, trumped up after he refused to spy for Iran in the West. They also point out his trial, where he was sentenced to death, lacked even the most basic democratic protections. Read More.

7. Italian off-duty carabinieri spot stolen Roman statue on sale at Brussels Sablon

Two Italian carabinieri – the equivalent of Belgium’s disbanded gendarmerie – solved a ten-year-old crime this week when they spotted a stolen Roman statue for sale in an antique shop on the Sablon in Brussels.

The pair were in Brussels on a mission from the archaeology division of the carabinieri. Once the job was done, they went on a stroll from the Justice Palace to the nearby Sablon, home of chocolatier Pierre Marcolini. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times