Belgium in Brief: Confusion Reigns

Belgium in Brief: Confusion Reigns
Credit: Belga

The announcement that Belgians could once again visit family in neighbouring countries caused mass confusion as many people aiming to do just that over the long weekend were turned away at the border.

On Friday, Home Affairs Ministers Pieter De Crem announced that cross-border family visits would be allowed again from Saturday. However, the Ministerial Decree making that decision official said that shopping in neighbouring countries was also allowed again, something De Crem did not talk about.

Unfortunately, Belgium neglected to tell its neighbouring countries of the decision, resulting in some chaos and confusion at the border with the Netherlands, with a Dutch mayor pointing out that this was “not a good example of timely communication.”

Meanwhile, France stated that Belgians won’t be allowed to enter before 15 June, and that those who try anyway risk a €135 fine.

So what’s the other news of the day? A Belgian Prince was infected with the coronavirus at a lockdown party in Spain, an anti-racism march in Brussels was organised and immediately cancelled, and -as always- the latest figures.

With so much information, and so little time to catch up before it potentially changes again, here are some of the top stories from around the country to get you up to speed.

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. 136 new infections, 25 hospital admissions in Belgium

136 additional people have tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium in the last 24 hours, according to figures by the Federal Public Health Service on Monday.

This brings the total number of cases in Belgium, since the beginning of the pandemic, to 58,517. The total reflects all people in Belgium who have been infected, and includes confirmed active cases as well as patients who have since recovered, or died from the consequences of the virus.

80 of the newly-infected people live in Flanders, 30 live in Wallonia, and 26 live in Brussels. Read more.

2. Black Lives Matter Belgium cancels protest amid storm of criticism

A protest slated for Monday and launched by a group called Black Lives Matter Belgium will not be going forward, the organisers announced after they were hit by a wave of criticism.

Hours after announcing the protest, the group said the event, set to take place on Monday afternoon in Place de la Monnaie, in central Brussels, will not be going forward.

The organisers said they had decided to cancel the event due to a lack of organisation and because they had not received authorisation from the police. Read more.

3. Lockdown: confusion reigns in border areas

A decision by the Belgian authorities to allow people to cross the border with neighbouring countries appears to have taken those countries by surprise, to the dismay of Belgians hoping to visit family members after more than two months of separation.

First, Belgium’s Home Affairs Minister Pieter De Crem announced that the government had decided to allow citizens to cross into Germany, the Netherlands, France and Luxembourg for the purpose of visiting family.

Immediately, it became clear that those neighbouring countries had not been informed of the decision, when Belgians trying to cross into France were turned back. Read more.

4. Belgian Prince tests positive for Covid-19 after lockdown party in Spain

Prince Joachim, the youngest son of Princess Astrid and nephew to the king of Belgium, has tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a lockdown party in Spain.

The news was reported by the Spanish newspaper El Confidencial, and has been confirmed by the royal palace.

The party took place in the city of Córdoba in Andalucia. The newspaper obtained a confidential document from the government of Andalucia which reports a party in a private residence involving 27 people, although that number is not confirmed. Read more.

He has since also apologised. Read more about that here.

5. Images of Belgian train honouring George Floyd go viral

Images of a Belgian SNCB train with a message referring to George Floyd, a black man who died after a white police officer put his knee on his neck for minutes in the United States, are going viral.

“Please, I can’t breathe” was one of Floyd’s last sentences before he died. This weekend, images have surfaced of a train from Belgian company SNCB with the words painted over the entire length of a wagon, as well as “in memory of George Floyd” in smaller print. Read More.

6. Coronavirus: antibody tests for everyone ‘soon’ available via GPs

There is no concrete timing yet, but everyone will “soon” be able to get tested for antibodies against the coronavirus with their GP, virologist and inter-federal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht said.

On Friday, Federal Minister for Public Health Maggie De Block announced that blood tests to detect antibodies against the virus will be made available for everyone in Belgium. “The general practitioner will take a blood sample, and that blood will be sent to a lab,” said Van Gucht. Read more.

7. One in three is ready to holiday in Belgium

One person in three would be ready now to go on holiday within Belgium, according to a survey carried out by the Flemish tourism agency Toerisme Vlaanderen (TV).

Four out of ten people surveyed said they had taken the opportunity during the time when travel was restricted to discover and appreciate their own surroundings, with 34% saying they will travel more in Belgium in the future. Read more.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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