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Belgium in Brief: New Measures Again?

Credit: Belga

Belgium’s National Security Council has been meeting since 9:00 AM this morning, and as usual, will announce its latest measures in a press conference this afternoon.

High on the agenda are the current restrictions on social contacts, and whether or not they will be extended beyond the four weeks that were decided in late July.

Following several calls by the culture and event sectors, regulations on public gatherings and events will also be discussed, and some more clarification on the return to school is also expected.

The number of new infections, in the meantime, has started going down, but according to the Crisis Centre, the decline is not going fast enough.

What this means for the rules, and if they will be relaxed, tightened or otherwise adapted, you will know as soon as we do.

With that in mind, 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. What’s on the agenda for the National Security Council today?

The National Security Council (NSC) meeting slated for Thursday will focus on deciding whether current restrictions on social gatherings and events will continue to apply through September.

High on the agenda will be whether the current restriction of social contacts will be extended beyond the four weeks that were decided in late July.

Officials at the NSC are also set to discuss whether to relax regulations on public gatherings and events as well as to discuss the return to school. Read more.

2. 2 in 3 no longer motivated to follow coronavirus measures

Credit: Belga

Two in three people in Flanders are no longer motivated to strictly follow the coronavirus measures, research conducted by the University of Ghent shows.

In March, 81% of people were motivated to follow the measures, but by mid-July, the percentage had already dropped to 69%. Last week, only 35% appeared to still be behind the current measures, according to the most recent figures.

An increasing number of people feel that following the measures is becoming an obligation, and only follow them to avoid fines or criticism from others, according to the study. Read More.

3. Covid-19: Number of new cases stabilises in Belgium

An average of 535 people per day tested positive for the new coronavirus (Covid-19) in Belgium during the past week, according to figures by Sciensano on Monday.

The figure refers to the period from 10 to 16 August and reflects a fall in the numbers across the country, with the exception of Brussels and Namur.

In Brussels, 822 new cases were counter, 127 more than the previous week. In Namur, the number of new cases went up by four to 149. Read More.

4. Fatal Charleroi arrest: ‘What happened is not normal’

An officer who was caught on a surveillance camera giving a Hitler salute during a fatal arrest at Charleroi Airport will be imposed disciplinary measures, the federal police decided on Wednesday.

The incident dates back to February 2018 but images have only recently surfaced. The arrest involved a 38-year-old man who seriously injured himself inside the police cell, and officers were heavy-handed to the point of sitting on him to restrain him.

The man went into cardiac arrest and died a few days later. An investigation into the cause of death has been ongoing for over two years now. Read more.

5. Belgian expert wants ‘harmonised’ face mask rule across the country

Belgium’s National Security Council should decide on uniform regulations for wearing a face mask across the country today, according to virologist Steven Van Gucht.

“I think we have to go to a harmonisation of some measures,” he told VRT on Wednesday evening. “I am thinking, very specifically, of the face mask obligation. It would be good that we apply it in the same way, so that it can always be explained why it is necessary.”

At the moment, the rules for wearing a mask differ from municipality to municipality, and from city to city, causing a great deal of confusion for many people. Read more.

6. Waiting lists for nursing homes in Belgium disappearing due to pandemic

Waiting lists for residential care centres are decreasing and disappearing following the Covid-19 pandemic, as many of Belgium’s elderly fall victim to the virus.

Whereas the great demand for placement used to exceed the offer, in some residential care centres beds now remain empty, VRT reports.

“We are seeing empty spots in nearly all Brussels residential care centres,” said one of the directors of Senior Living Group, Yves Minnoye. Read more.

7. Brussels sees a 70% drop of polluting vehicles

The number of very polluting vehicles circulating in Brussels dropped by 70% in 2019, Bruxelles Environnement writes in its annual report.

Since January 2019, diesel vehicles with a Euro 2 standard and petrol vehicles with a Euro 1 standard no longer have access to the Brussels Capital Region’s Low Emission Zone (LEZ). The first fines were sent in April 2019. Read more.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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