Belgium in Brief: The News Didn't Rest

Belgium in Brief: The News Didn't Rest
Credit: Belga/Wikipedia

Today your news sources might seem a little less eloquent than usual, a bit more to the point, almost like they need a nap.

That's because they probably do. It was a long night.

After a crazy 2020 when things just kept getting stranger, a holiday period without rest for many, and a new year's gift of vaccine strategy, it's safe to say that nobody was expecting riots in Washington DC only 6 days into 2021.

But riots there were. The international news cycle - which had just been overtaken by updates on vaccination policy and travel figures - was overcome by images nobody would have expected to see in their lifetime.

It all got a little bit action-movie-like. Halls and buildings most Europeans know for their depiction on the silver screen, an assumed bad guy sitting on the outskirts, chaos in the US as curfews and covid laws fell totally apart.

But today, we watch for the aftermath, while the news cycle restarts in Europe.

On with the news.

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 to expect from the Consultative Committee on Friday

Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet again on Friday to assess the epidemiological situation and the measures currently in force, as the coronavirus figures continue to drop. Read more.

2. ‘Disbelief,’ ‘Terrifying,’ ‘Astonishing’: Belgium reacts to US riots

Belgian leaders – alongside the rest of the world – have taken to Twitter late on Wednesday evening to react to violent riots in Washington DC.

In statements ranging from emotional to wordless, politicians from across the country commented on the incident, which saw pro – Trump protesters fight their way past police to breach the US Capitol, demanding that the results of the presidential election be overturned. Read More.

3. EU approves Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine

The US-developed coronavirus vaccine Moderna has officially become the second coronavirus vaccine approved for use in the EU after it was officially authorised today. Read More.

4. Fingerprint ID cards now issued by all Belgian municipalities

All municipalities in Belgium will issue the new eID cards – which include the holders’ fingerprints – from now on, after the roll-out was delayed by the coronavirus crisis last year.

In 2020, 53,269 new eIDs were already distributed across Belgium, and everyone who now applies for a new card will receive a renewed eID, including fingerprints. Read More.

5. Belgium’s High Fens closed off to tourists this weekend

Belgium’s High Fens (Hautes Fagnes) region will be closed to tourists for the second weekend in a row in a push to avoid crowds as more snowfall is predicted in the area.

The nature reserve, in the province of Liège, was already closed off to tourists in the first weekend of the new year after a large influx of visitors during the Christmas holiday led to difficulty complying with coronavirus measures. Read More.

6. Only 37% of Belgium’s returning travellers have had Covid-19 test

Less than half of the people who filled out a Passenger Locator Form (PLF) after their return from abroad over the winter holidays were tested for coronavirus, according to Flemish Welfare Minister Wouter Beke.

Despite approximately 160,000 forms being filled out by travellers returning from a red zone abroad, only 37% of these people underwent a PCR test, Belga reports. Read more.

7. Belgian bar owner sentenced to prison for pouring a beer

The owner of a bar just outside of the city of Leuven was sentenced to three months in prison and a €1,000 fine for pouring a customer a beer, violating Belgium’s coronavirus measures.

“The punishment I received is disproportionate,” Wim Poppe of bar-restaurant Gitan in Kessel-Lo in Leuven said. Read More.

Jules Johnston

The Brussels Times

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