Belgium’s health-crisis heroes to be honoured on National Day
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    Belgium’s health-crisis heroes to be honoured on National Day

    © UZ Leuven

    This year Belgium will pay homage to the victims of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and honour individuals and representatives of sectors that have made exceptional efforts during the crisis on the occasion of the Belgian National Day, 21 July.

    The Day’s programme was presented on Friday by Home Affairs and Security Minister Pieter De Crem.

    An event that usually attracts about 300,000 persons each year to the streets of Brussels’ city centre, the Day will be scaled down this year, following the National Security Council’s decision to cancel all mass events until 1 September, due to the health crisis.

    The Te Deum ceremony will be held in the morning, attended by about a hundred invitees rather than the usual number, which could run as high as a thousand in normal times. The festivities in the park and fireworks have been cancelled. Three minutes of silence will be observed at 10.00 a.m. in memory of the victims of COVID-19.

    An alternative ceremony will be organised at the Place des Palais for 200 persons, down from the usual 2,000 guests plus the crowds that usually lined the parade’s route. Only a small march will be held. For this parade, ”people will be present in the stands, which will be reduced,” the minister said, explaining that the idea this year was to avoid the spontaneous masses that usually view the civilian and military parades “for evident safety reasons.”

    The ceremony will pay homage to the victims of the novel Coronavirus and honour people who have stood out in the fight against the virus.

    “We wish to honour, in appropriate fashion, persons who have
    demonstrated exceptional merit in recent months,” the minister said. These include health care professionals, but also people involved in cleaning operations, funeral parlours and the distribution sector.

    Four persons most outstanding in this area, singled out for mention on the website www.pleindespoir.be, will also be invited to meet the king at an audience at the royal palace.

    As part of the “Belgium, grateful, resilient and uniquely phenomenal” campaign, closed-door concerts filmed in five Belgian cities will be broadcast on the RTBF and VRT from 2.00 p.m. on 21 July. They will feature about 10 artistes, including DJ Henri PFR, Selah Sue, Ozark Henri, Daan and Alice on the Roof, who will all sing tunes linked to the health crisis.

    The Brussels Times