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Belgium in Brief: Ending the Easter Pause

Credit: Belga

Even though the Easter holidays were finished some time ago, the government’s “Easter pause” for Belgium’s coronavirus restrictions only ends today.

As Prime Minister Alexander De Croo made clear at one of the previous Consultative Committee meetings: this does not mean that new relaxations go into force, but rather that the extra restrictions that were imposed over the four-week “pause” will be lifted now.

In practice, people can get together in groups of up to ten people (outdoors), go shopping (without an appointment), and go to the hairdresser or any other non-medical contact profession again.

Test events in the culture and events sector will also be possible from now on, but people hoping to grab a drink on a terrace in the sun will have to have a little more patience.

“The progress of the vaccination campaign allows us to say that, on 8 May, the so-called ‘outdoor plan’ can come into force, meaning the terraces can open,” De Croo said during the press conference last Friday.

From then on, terraces will be allowed to receive up to four customers per table again – as long as everyone keeps their distance and follows the rules – between 8:00 AM and 10:00 PM.

Will you go shopping again? Have you booked an appointment to have your hair cut? What do you think about the 10:00 PM closing time?

Let @johnstonjules know (or @maithechini, as she wrote it today).

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1. New measures: What’s allowed from today?

Belgium’s latest deconfinement measures will come into force as of Monday 26 April, marking an end to the “Easter Pause” which saw the country tighten measures in an effort to halt the spread of coronavirus. Here’s what you need to know.

2. Images of Interior Minister Verlinden’s indoor training spark outrage

Pictures showing Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden sporting indoors, which is forbidden for the general public under current coronavirus fighting measures, have provoked criticism.

On Sunday, Verlinden participated in a physical selection test of the Federal Police for aspiring officers in a sports hall in Ghent, which sparked outrage from people pointing out that this is still against the rules. Read more.

3. ‘Relaxations could be made sooner in Flanders if vaccination rollout is quicker,’ Jambon says

If the pace of the coronavirus vaccination rollout in Flanders is higher than in French-speaking Belgium, specific relaxations could be made sooner in the region, according to Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon.

Currently, almost 30% of over 18s in Flanders have received at least one dose, followed by Wallonia (28.8%), but the rollout in Brussels is significantly lower (22.5%), according to figures from the Sciensano health institute. Read More.

4. Vaccinated Americans can travel to the EU this summer, says von der Leyen

Americans who have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus will be allowed to travel to the European Union this summer, according to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

Non-essential travel from the United States to the EU was banned more than a year ago to limit the spread of Covid-19, but the US’ rapid vaccination rollout will likely make an adjustment possible, she said in an interview with The New York Times on Sunday. Read more.

5. Research: Oxford University close to breakthrough with malaria vaccine

Oxford University, one of the creators of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19, has reported a historic breakthrough in the development of a vaccine against malaria, one of the most deadly diseases on earth. Read More.

6. Exki shuts down dark kitchen after complaints from neighbours

The restaurant-coffee-shop chain Exki has announced it wil close down its food preparation kitchen in the Rue de la Prévoyance in the Marolles district of Brussels, after a long history of complaints from neighbours. Read More.

7. No women hold senior civil service positions in Brussels

In Brussels, all senior civil service positions are filled by men, civil service minister for the city Sven Gatz has said in response to a parliamentary question.

Even in the lower management positions, female representation for the roles is low, however, this figure further decreases the higher the level of the position, according to a report by La Libre. Read More.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times