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Belgium in Brief: (No) Covid-19 Vaccine Passports

Credit: Belga

It’s been a subject of discussion since the first vaccines arrived in the EU: Covid-19 vaccination passports for travel.

If everything goes according to plan, a digital “vaccination passport” should allow people vaccinated against the coronavirus to travel freely, according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

“By the summer, it should be here,” she said after a virtual summit of European leaders yesterday evening.

However, while many Member States have spoken out in favour of such a passport, Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo argued that now is not the time to discuss such privileges.

“It’s really not a good idea to start granting such privileges in this situation,” he said. “Certainly not because the active population, the people who travel, are barely vaccinated.”

What do you think? Is a vaccination passport a good idea?
Let @johnstonjules know on Twitter (Or @maithechini, since she wrote it today).

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. De Croo convinced that Belgium’s travel ban is ‘proportionate’

Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo is convinced that he can show the European Commission that the country’s ban on non-essential travel is proportionate and non-discriminatory.

The Commission pointed out that the measures had to be “proportionate, temporary and non-discriminatory,” according to De Croo, who said that he is “convinced that we can prove that what we have decided meets these three conditions,” at the Federal Advisory Committee on European Affairs. Read More.

2. These sectors want relaxations from today’s Consultative Committee

Even though Belgium’s new coronavirus infections and hospitalisations have started rising again, several sectors have requested relaxations from the Consultative Committee today.

The Consultative Committee will meet in person from 2:00 PM today to discuss possible changes to the coronavirus measures, and will announce its decisions during a press conference afterwards, the cabinet of Prime Minister Alexander De Croo confirmed to The Brussels Times. Read more.

3. Brussels will re-evaluate 10 PM curfew today

Following the federal Consultative Committee later today, the 19 mayors and Minister-President of the Brussels-Capital Region will also meet to evaluate the curfew.

Currently, the curfew in Brussels applies from 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM, and is valid until 1 March, but many have argued that the Capital-Region’s rule should be brought in line with the Flemish one, where the curfew is in place between midnight and 5:00 AM. Read More.

4. New European night train serving Belgium in the cards

A new night train serving Belgium may be in the pipeline, as two private individuals are looking to start operating the ‘European Sleeper’ from April 2022.

Two Dutch night train enthusiasts are behind the plans for the train, of which the first destination will be announced sometime in April. Read More.

5. Belgian bureaucracy: unclear rules about ‘student bubbles’ result in incorrect fines

Differing interpretations of Belgium’s latest Ministerial Decree on the coronavirus rules regarding what is and isn’t considered a household are leading to undeserved fines being handed to students living together.

Several students have found themselves in the centre of some confusion over the rules, as the typical Belgian student accommodations with their shared common spaces, also known as “kot,” are considered a household by the government – but not by the police. Read More.

6. Brussels takes action against excessive rents

The parties of the majority in the Brussels parliament are to set up a new committee to look at the question of excessively-high rents for accommodation in the capital.

The joint rent committee would be made up of representatives of landlords and tenants, and would be a first for Belgium. Read More.

7. Brussels considers creating its own credit system for businesses

Brussels is considering creating a sort of exchange network in the city wherein companies can do business with each other using credit, rather than a conventional currency like the euro.

The idea has already been put into practice on the Island of Sarinia in Italy, where after the 2008 banking crisis, local businesses set up a commercial credit network with something called the “Sardex” as their currency. Read more.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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