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Belgium in Brief: Brussels Gets Homesick

In a moment slightly different from the norm, the biggest news of the week in Belgium takes us out of the country, quite literally.

It’s been months since many of us left the country or even the city. While the issue of not being allowed to travel is far from unique to Belgium, Brussels attracts a certain type of displaced person to which this travel news holds significant meaning.

Be it Americans wondering if they can fly back to the states, mainland Europeans considering ways to get to their home country while weighing up against infection variations, or even the English (not the British) getting the news that they might be able to travel home without being placed in quarantine – to be confirmed later.

This last one holds a particular significance and cause for a momentary lapse into the first person for Belgium in Brief.

As despite seeing with jubilation that travel to England was allowed again – assuming the all too common mix-up of England/UK to mean I too was free to travel home – I was brought back down to earth when I saw that Scotland was not on board.

So for now, I’ll wait before I know if I can go home during the summer, before I join the many in Belgium considering if it’s a good idea or not.

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. Coronavirus will create a new Brussels: Here’s what it will look like

How do you build a city to withstand a global pandemic? Urban hubs are scrambling to redesign their roads and buildings to meet the needs of a new post-coronavirus era.

Belgium’s capital has not been known historically for having a particularly thoughtful or diligent approach to urban planning. While New York gave us the grid system and Paris the elegance of Haussmannisation, Brusselisation has become a byword for just letting buildings sprout up where they may.

So how will Brussels change? 

2. Derek Blyth’s hidden secrets of Brussels: Summer

Derek Blyth is the author of the bestselling The 500 Hidden Secrets of Brussels. He picks out ten of his favourite hidden secrets in every issue for The Brussels Times Magazine. These are the picks in the latest Summer issue.  Read more.

3.  Some good news to take you into the weekend

Plays, Beaches and fairs. Honestly, just give this a read to offset the doom and gloom. Read More.

4. Leuven makes face masks mandatory on markets

As the two largest and busiest markets in the city of Leuven are starting up again, the mayor has decided to make masks mandatory for market-goers.

The obligation counts for the Friday markets in the city centre, and the Sunday market in Heverlee, which will now be able to open with more than 50 stalls, mayor Mohamed Ridouani announced.

“After all, when these markets are busy, it is difficult for visitors to keep their distance. With face masks we want to guarantee additional safety,” Ridouani explained. Read More.

5. Lidl brand clothing auctions for 10x list price after viral frenzy

A selection of items bearing the branding of the discount supermarket Lidl have taken the Belgian fashion market by storm, with products going on sale for several times their modest asking price.

Flip-flops, socks and shoes in the telltale yellow and blue of the german chain are now flooding online selling platforms, shoes at €12.50 are sold for up to €150, socks at €2 for more than €30.

The prices, and the story, don’t stop there. Read more.

6. Structural racism, colonial bias and invisible artists: The struggles of a black art historian in Brussels

Your train to Gare du Midi has probably ran right past the Wetsi Gallery, and you had no idea.

The windows of the art gallery sit along the railway on the first floor at Studio CityGate, a former industrial estate turned trendy workshop, just south of the railway on rue des Deux Gares in Anderlecht. The high, bright pink gate opens on a skatepark and a community garden. Inside, the Wetsi Gallery shares the space with Café Congo, an arty bar and events space, and with several artists’ studios.

Here’s the story.

7. England drops quarantine rules for over 50 countries

As of July 10, citizens of over 50 countries will no longer be quarantined upon arrival in England. France, Spain, Germany and Italy are among those affected, the British government said in a statement.

Full disclosure, we don’t know if Belgium is on that list yet. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times

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