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Belgium in Brief: What’s Your First Terrace Order? 

Credit: Pikrepo/Belga

It’s Friday again, the sun is… there? So, it’s time to try and avoid the overly bleak news and look for something a little positive as we head into the weekend.

As I made clear yesterday: I’m a little concerned about Belgium making the dates it set out for the next relaxations of measures, but I want to be proven wrong.

So today, we’re going to pretend I was, and we’re actually able to sit on a terrace while you tell me how wrong I was. Sorry, no, I can’t pay for the bill – there’s quite a lot of you by this point.

So, what’s your order? 

I’ve asked a few people this question and, so far, have received a variety of replies.

Plenty of people have said they would go for a Spritz and something to snack on. I see the appeal, but a Spritz isn’t really my go-to. Others want a beer, some are more focused on their friends being there than the actual order.

Others want a “Gintonic” or a “Gin & Tonic” – whichever name you use, you will find the other weird. There’s a group of people who seem to be missing croquettes (I’m going on the record and saying cheese is the superior form, but feel free to @ me), and there are others who are missing a glass of cava in the sun, or an elaborate lunch.

I have had a long think about this, and I think I have my order.

  • I want a coffee. And not one I’ve made myself.
  • I want bitterballen – complete with all the sides and dips. Too many dips. These lockdowns have lacked dips.
  • And then I want something I’ve never heard of before.

Because I’m now realising that’s one of the weird things of trying to replicate normal life under the current circumstances. We lack the opportunity to try something weird and new, and I miss that more than many other things.

I want to point at a menu and say: “I wonder what that’s like.” Then find out.

So, what’s your order going to be?
Am I wrong about croquettes?

Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter.

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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. Cuddle contacts: Belgium averages far beyond 1 per person rule

French-speaking people in Belgium have an average of five close contacts and people living in Flanders have an average of three to four, outside their family bubble, according to the latest report by the GEMS expert group.

According to current rules, people can have just one close contact outside their household, and although the Consultative Committee announced on Wednesday that as of 8 May, people will be able to invite two family members into their home again, this will change little. Read more.

2. Experts question feasibility of Belgium’s relaxation milestones

The Consultative Committee may have only just announced the two “milestones” that Belgium has to pass before further relaxations are possible, but some experts are already worried about whether or not they can be reached.

Currently, 941 Covid-19 patients need intensive care in Belgium’s hospitals, meaning that that number “has to fall rapidly,” before anything can change, according to biostatistician Geert Molenberghs. Read more.

3. Belgian mayors urged to keep terraces closed until 8 May

Reacting to news that several mayors would reopen their terraces before 8 May, Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden called on all local authorities to respect the Consultative Committee’s decisions.

The announcement that the reopening of the hospitality sector would initially be limited to its terraces, and only from 8 May instead of the initially announced 1 May date, led to a number of complaints, from the sector and mayors alike. Read More.

4. Brussels residents have no choice of vaccine

Contrary to previous reports in Belgian media, people living in the Brussels-Capital Region have no way of choosing which vaccine they will get via the region’s online reservation tool.

Brussels residents who receive a vaccination invite can pick their own time and centre for the shot, but they cannot pick which vaccine they receive. Read more.

5. Third dose of coronavirus vaccine ‘probably needed,’ says CEO Pfizer

People who have been administered the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine will “probably” need a third dose in six months to a year, followed by another shot every year, the pharmaceutical company’s CEO Albert Bourla said.

He added that variants will play a key role in determining the doses needed, but that “it is extremely important to minimise the number of people vulnerable to the virus.” Read More.

6. Report: Brussels benefited little from businesses’ post-Brexit move into Europe

More than 440 businesses in the City of London have set up new offices in the EU in preparation for the UK leaving the Union, but very few have chosen Brussels, according to a new report by the London consultancy New Financial. Read More.

7. Belgium to chair government expert group on the regulation of ‘killer robots’

Belgium will be chairing a group of government experts (GGE) on emerging technologies in the field of lethal autonomous weapon systems (LAWS), or so-called “Killer Robots”, foreign affairs officials announced on Thursday.

The group of experts aims to clarify the legal, technological, and military issues raised by these robots, in particular with regard to international humanitarian law within the framework of the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons in Geneva. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times