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Belgium in Brief: Waiting For De Croo

Credit: Belga

We’re two days away from the Consultative Committee sitting down to discuss what will happen with the next deadline, bringing with it the inevitable predictions, fears and expectations from within the hospitality industry.

As it stands, nothing is confirmed until De Croo speaks, but here are the latest points in the news to keep you up to speed: 

-Belgium’s authorities have been urged to postpone relaxations planned for early May until the end of the month – but this is just opinion at this point. 

-The hospitality industry is worried that an 8:00 PM closing time could be devastating for the sector – but they don’t know if this will be the case. 

-Other potential closing times continue to be discussed, but it remains entirely uncertain if they will go for 9:30 PM, 11:00 PM, or something else entirely.

Simply put, the next few days will be full of people talking, experts advising and news outlets reporting on what very well could happen.

As always, however, the plan can only be confirmed once the committee has met.

Is that lack of advanced communication a problem? Are we being kept out of the loop? How is this making you feel, as someone living through this continuing confusion?

Well, read this story on that very topic, by @LaurenWalkerH, and then let me know your thoughts @johnstonjules /

AND continuing my call from yesterday, this week I’m looking for the best coffee in Brussels & beyond. Message me your favourite spot for better times.

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. Belgium should postpone relaxations to end of May, expert suggests

Belgium’s authorities should be careful with the relaxations that were planned for early May and postpone them to the end of the month, according to biostatistician Niel Hens (UAntwerp/UHasselt).

The so-called “Easter pause” introduced by the Consultative Committee at the end of March had less effect than hoped for, Hens explained on VRT’s television programme ‘De Afspraak’ on Tuesday evening. Read more.

2. Ignoring people’s feelings is making the coronavirus crisis worse, psychologists warn

Despite highlighting how people’s mental health has been affected by the coronavirus crisis, Belgium’s government is facing criticism for showing a lack of emotional understanding in its decision-making.

By not taking people’s emotional responses into account, Belgium is potentially creating a vicious cycle where people lash out against measures, then measures get worse, which results in them lashing out again, according to motivational psychologist and GEMS advisory group member Maarten Vansteenkiste. Read more.

3. Johnson & Johnson resumes vaccine deliveries to Europe

The pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson will resume deliveries of its coronavirus vaccine to European countries following the review of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Tuesday.

EMA said that it believes the benefits of the vaccine outweigh the possible risks, but did include the combination of thrombosis and low platelet count as a possible “very rare” side effect on the package leaflet – prompting Johnson & Johnson to resume its deliveries. Read More.

4. Nearly 14,000 people register for vaccination on Bru-VAX in one day

In just one day, over 13,700 people living in Brussels registered for vaccination via the Capital Region’s new Bru-VAX system, according to the Common Community Commission (COCOM).

About 7,500 Brussels residents made an appointment to get vaccinated, and 6,200 others (between 51 and 55 years old) registered on the waiting list, since the online system, hosted on the Doctena platform, was launched on Monday. Read more.

5. EU reaches deal on Climate Law, making Green Deal goals legal obligations

A deal on the European Climate Law has been reached, making legal obligations of the goals stipulated by the European Green Deal to create a climate-neutral Europe by 2050 and reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030.

The agreement was decided on early on Wednesday morning, one day ahead of World Earth Day, after over 14 hours of negotiations between representatives of the European Parliament and the 27 EU Member States. Read More.

6. Flanders launches hunt for three new national parks

Flanders is looking for candidates for three additional national parks and three new landscape parks, which the Region wants to establish in the years to come.

This was announced on Tuesday by Flemish Minister for Nature Zuhal Demir and Flemish Minister for Immovable Heritage Matthias Diependaele. Read More.

7. Banking: ING scraps interest on savings over €250,000

ING Belgium has announced it will no longer pay interest from 1 July on savings accounts with a balance of more than €250,000, In addition, the bank will start to charge negative interest on balances of more than €500,000. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times