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Here’s what’s new on 1 March

Tattoo artists can go back to work today. © Benljamin Lehman/Unsplash

Electrical appliances will receive a new energy label, which indicates not only their energy efficiency, but also their technical evolution. The new label runs from A (best performance) to G (least efficient). The colour coding from red to green remains. The change concerns refrigerators and freezers, dishwashers, washing machines and electronic screens.

The revision comes about because since the introduction of the previous system, the top category A+++ has been attained by almost all products on the market, making a change necessary to maintain some distinction.
Under the new system, no product will immediately transition to the top rating of A. That will be retained for products that show a clear evolution in the future.

The new labels have been gradually introduced since November, but now become the sole reference. Retailers have until 18 March to adapt their store and online displays to the new rules.

Ticket windows at 44 railway stations are slated for closure, to be replaced by ticket machines. The announcement of the measure led to an unusually public dispute between federal mobility minister Georges Gilkinet (Ecolo) and Sophie Dutordoir, CEO of the rail authority SNCB on whether she had been consulted on a measure she clearly opposed.

The SNCB justifies the measure by pointing out that the stations in question received very few passengers.

Under a compromise, the ticket windows will remain open two or three days a week until the end of the year, and in the meantime stewards will be in place in the early days of the change to help passengers to navigate the ticket machines.

Ticket windows manned by humans now remain in only 91 stations in Belgium, though at 16% of the total that is more than in neighbouring countries.

Brussels Airlines sees a change at the top table, as the German-born Peter Gerber takes over as CEO from his Belgian predecessor Dieter Vranckx, who moves to the Swiss airline Swiss.

Both airlines form part of the Lufthansa Group, where Gerber was previously head of cargo operations. He now also takes on the title of Lufthansa Group Chief Representative for European Affairs.

Vranckx’s move is seen as a promotion. He worked for Swiss previously, and his family still lives in Switzerland.

Contact professions including beauticians, non-medical massage therapists, nail salons and tattoo/piercing artists will be allowed to re-open under strict protective measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The measure does not affect hairdressers, who were allowed to open on 13 February.

The curfew in Wallonia changes and moves into line with that in Flanders: from midnight to 05.00, instead of starting at 22.00. The curfew in Brussels remains unchanged: 22.00 to 06.00.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times