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3 Mar 2020 11:35 AM | Tim Reynolds

The Belgian Federal Public Service (FPS) Health, Food Chain Safety and Environment has established a website on the #COVID19 virus that is available in English as well as Flemish, French and German.

Contact us if you want the BBCA to post a News Story or an Event that is strongly linked to the British Community in Brussels.  We reserve the right to select items for publication and to edit items as required for style and space.

Email    BBCA.NewsAndEvents@gmail.com


News and Events -----------

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  • 25 Nov 2020 9:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Belgian Government Immigration Office website has today issued an update on the final steps being taken in the country to implement the Brexit withdrawal agreement, which regulates the situation for UK citizens already living and working in Belgium before 31 December 2020.


    It foreseen that UK citizens will have a period up to 31 December 2021 to apply for a new residence card specifically for beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement, i.e. those UK citizens and their family members who have declared their residency in Belgium by 31 December 2020. This application period also applies to applications for a card for local border traffic (cross-border work) for beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement.

    During the year-long application period, all (residence) rights of the British and their family members who already resided or worked in Belgium will be protected. 

    E or F to M or N

    During this period, you can continue to use your current (residence) documents (E,E+,F, and F+ cards). When you submit your application for the new status, you will also receive a certificate of application from the municipality which will cover your (residence) rights during the formal examination of your application.

    More information will be available soon regarding the application procedure to be followed for submitting an application for the new residence card (M card) or as a frontier worker for a local border traffic card (N card). You will also be informed individually by letter of the procedure to be followed by your commune or other appropriate authority.

  • 24 Nov 2020 6:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Full Circle organisation has been adapting its programme of events as the health situation has fluctuated over the year - moving online in March and then back to live/hybrid events in the summer and now all online again.

    This Friday (27 November) Full Circle presents Laura Mucha, the author of ‘We need to talk about love’ (the hardback edition was entitled 'Love Factually'). The book draws on 100s of interviews and peer-reviewed research into how we love and what influences how we love, such as nurture, peer learning etc.


    Love is all around and Laura Mucha has made it her business to dive into one of life’s most elusive and complex subjects.

    For the past ten years, Laura has been travelling all over the world to find out not only what love is, but also why and how we love. The result of her extensive exploration is a revealing look at love from all angles – scientific, psychological, emotional and philosophical.

    Laura blends the most intimate stories she has gathered around the world with enlightening scientific insights, for a compelling and entertaining evening.

    To find more information and/ or register for the event follow this link.

    The Full Circle online salons usually involve splitting the talk into two so that the audience gets a break from listening. Full Circle also use breakout rooms for their ‘table discussions’ which work really well and help maintain a friendly Full Circle vibe! 

  • 24 Nov 2020 5:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The UK government is undertaking one of its largest direct mail campaigns to UK Nationals living in EU and EFTA member states with 365 000 people on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) database being contacted.


    The UK Government mailshot will cover advice on the actions required to prepare for the end of the UK Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020. The mailshot includes 5 248 letters issued to people on the DWP’s database in Belgium.

    The letters will be sent to UK State Pensioners and benefit recipients giving them advice on how to register for residency and healthcare, exchange driving licences and check new passport validity rules online.

    All UK citizens resident in Belgium should also be contacted by their Belgian communes soon with information on how to apply for new residency permits once the transition period is over. As the UK has left the EU new residency cards will be required as UK citizens will not be eligible for E / E+ cards (unless they are also citizens of an EU country). The transfer should be seamless, but UK citizens will need to apply for the new residence status and cards. In the meantime, exiting cards will remain valid for accessing commune and federal services etc.

    Outreach

    Martin Shearman British Ambassador to Belgium said: “Since 2017, British embassies across Europe have organised 853 outreach events, with more than 510 000 Brits attending in person or online. We will continue to support them, including through our ongoing public information campaign.”

    The UK Government has been running a public information campaign featuring online, radio and newspaper adverts across 30 countries informing UK Nationals of the actions they need to take. This is in addition to the hundreds of town hall meetings, street surgeries and online Q&As run by the UK’s Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates across Europe.

    The UK Government has also allocated £3 million for charities and community voluntary organisations across Europe to assist UK Nationals that may need additional help to register or apply to protect their residency rights. This includes potentially at-risk groups, such as pensioners and disabled people and those living in remote areas or who have mobility difficulties.

    UK Nationals can find the most up to date information on actions they may need to take in the ‘Living in Guide’ for Belgium here

    Know your rights

    UK Nationals’ rights to continue living in EU member states are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement (and Separation Agreement with EFTA countries), provided they are permanently resident and exercising their treaty/free movement rights by 31 December 2020. This is not affected by the UK’s ongoing trade negotiation with the EU.

    Actions UK Nationals may need to take include applying or registering for residency, checking or registering for healthcare, exchanging UK driving licence, and checking passport validity.

  • 9 Nov 2020 6:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Brussels Women’s Club’s walking marathon around Brussel’s 80km promenade verte over the summer has raised over €9 500 for charities!


    The club organised the walk over 7 stages and thanks all the members of the Club, walkers, friends and family who participated either with their feet or with donations to reach the magnificent total of €9 532 for the club’s 2020 Charities: The Parkinson’s Association Belgium and The Giraffe Project Children’s Charity that provides education for desperately poor children from the slums in Nairobi, Kenya.

    The Promenade verte is a ~80 km walk right round the periphery of Brussels and was not only an opportunity to raise money, but also to discover the astonishing green belt which surrounds our city and meet new people too!

    Not only were the walks a challenge in themselves, but the walk organisers had to cope with the added issues of COVID this year – but nevertheless, the walks became a highlight of the year in more ways than one. And a roaring success for the charities.

  • 2 Nov 2020 4:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    With the new COVID19 measures in place, commemorating the fallen of two world wars and other conflicts will be more difficult in 2020. However, the Royal British Legion Brussels Branch has complied some ideas for Remembrance 2020 that offer us a variety of more personal ways to remember this year.


    Visit your nearest Commonwealth War Grave

    Belgium has 625 war grave cemeteries commemorating those who fell in the First and Second World Wars. Go to the RBL Brussels website for details of nine cemeteries in Brussels and the surrounding areas. You can contact RBL Brussels to obtain a wreath or poppy cross or stick. The Legion would love to see your pictures and share our Acts of Remembrance. Obviously any visits you make must be conducted in accordance with current Belgian COVID restrictions.

    Request a Remembrance Tribute

    The Brussels Branch Committee will plant your personal tribute on a poppy cross/stick at a Commonwealth War Grave on your behalf. Send the RBL your message here.

    Virtual Field of Remembrance

    You can add your personal tribute to a virtual Field of Remembrance. Just follow this link to leave your tribute.

    Write to a Second World War veteran

    The Legion is inviting children to write a letter to our Second World War veterans living in Belgium. For more details, contact the RBL Brussels branch directly.

    Watch Remembrance Sunday at the Cenotaph

    The BBC coverage of the Cenotaph service will start from 11.15hrs on Sunday 8 November (also on BBC Radio 4). If you can't get the BBC then use the links on the RBL Brussels website to watch a livestream of a Remembrance Sunday service online at Winchester, Exeter, or Dover.

    Observe the two-minute silence at 11.00hrs on 11 November

    Take two minutes on Wednesday 11 November to pause and honour those who gave their lives for peace and freedom.

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:

    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.

    At the going down of the sun and in the morning

    We will remember them.

    Please contact the Royal British Legion Brussels Branch to order wreathes or poppy crosses/sticks for your Act of Remembrance or make a direct donation (details below).

    RBL Brussels donations should be made to: RBL Brussels, account no.: BE89 2100 1555 2485 with the reference: Poppy Appeal 2020


    To find out more or contact the branch visit the RBL Brussels website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

  • 30 Oct 2020 9:17 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    This evening (30 October) Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, announced a further tightening of lockdown measures to reduce the pressure on hospitals and to quickly and drastically flatten the COVID-19 curve in the country. The new measures will come into force on Monday, 2 November for a period of one and a half months until Sunday 13 December.


    The new measures are:

    1. Social life

    Each member of a family has the right to have close contact. Families can only invite one close contact to their home at a time. You cannot receive other visitors at home. An exception is given to people who live alone: next to their close contact, they can also invite an additional person, but not at the same time.

    Meeting outdoors: four-person rule, respecting safety distances.

    Funeral with a maximum of 15 people present, ban on organizing a meal or a reception after the ceremony.

    Places of prayer remain open but no religious services. Gatherings of a maximum of four people, subject to wearing a mask and respecting the distances.

    The borders are not closed in accordance with the European agreements. However, travel abroad is strongly discouraged.

    Weddings take place only in the presence of spouses, witnesses and registrars.

    2. Economic life

    Teleworking is compulsory in areas which allow it. When teleworking is not possible, wearing a mask and ventilating the premises are mandatory. Corporate restaurants are closed.

    Holiday centres and campsites are closed in their entirety from the morning of Tuesday, 3 November morning. Until then, indoor and group activities at the resorts are suspended. Meals may be consumed in vacation homes, per family.

    The hotels and B & B's remain open, but their restaurants are closed. Meals can be eaten in the room.

    Non-essential stores are closing but may organize pickups and home deliveries of goods ordered in advance. Access to the store is prohibited when picking up purchases.

    To ensure fair competition rules, supermarkets and markets (<200 people) must limit their offer to products available in essential stores.

    Garages and bicycle shops only provide repairs.

    Non-medical professions (hairdressers, make-up artists, wellness centres, massage, beauty salons, etc.) are closing.

    Farm businesses and businesses remain open, provided they meet telecommuting, mask-wearing and social distancing obligations.

    Animal parks will close.

    3. Schools

    For all levels of education, classes will be suspended on 12 and 13 November. Classes will resume on Monday 16 November.

    For secondary education, second and third degree students will attend face-to-face education at a maximum of 50% of the time until 1 December. Before 1 December, the government will assess whether 100% face-to-face teaching is possible again.

    For higher education, distance education will be provided:

    o first-year students: until 1 December, when they will be able to follow face-to-face teaching again.

    o older students, at least until the end of the calendar year.

    Teachers will meet online; the same rule applies to pedagogical days.

    Organizing physical team-building events is prohibited.

    4. Start and end dates

    The measures will come into force throughout the country from Monday, 2 November, 2020.

    The measures apply for a period of one and a half months, until Sunday 13 December, 2020 inclusive. For non-essential businesses, the Consultation Committee will conduct an assessment on 1 December.

    Find the original release information (in French) here.

  • 29 Oct 2020 9:50 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    For your information, yesterday (Wednesday 28 October) at 22h00, the Belgian Monitor published the ministerial decree containing the measures to be applied throughout Belgium from midnight. The details (translated from French) are below.


    Stores

    In-store purchases can only be made individually or with one other person for a maximum of 30 minutes (per store).

    Hotels and other types of accommodation

    Only the restaurant is open, and only for hotel guests.

    Leisure and culture

    All establishments (or parts of establishments) belonging to the cultural, festive, sporting, recreational and events sector are closed, including: casinos, automatic gaming halls and betting offices; wellness centres, including among others saunas, jacuzzis, steam rooms and hammams, unless their use is private; nightclubs and dance halls; party and reception rooms, except for the organization of meals at funerals or cremations; amusement park; indoor playgrounds; bowling alleys; fairgrounds, annual markets, flea markets, flea markets, Christmas markets and winter villages; swimming pools; trade fairs, including trade shows; cinemas.

    The following may remain open: outdoor playgrounds; outdoor areas of zoos, animal parks, nature parks and open-air museums, including the entrance, exit, sanitary facilities, first aid and rescue buildings; libraries; places of worship and buildings intended for the public exercise of non-denominational moral services; the outdoor spaces of sports infrastructures for the individual practice of sport; equestrian centres and racetracks, for the sole purpose of the welfare of the animals; cultural venues, for under 12s as part of school and extracurricular activities, as part of organized courses and activities, and for staff members as part of their professional activities.

    Amateur sport

    Apart from swimming pools, sports halls and sports facilities can also remain open for amateur sports, but only for school groups of children up to 12 years old included as part of school or extra-curricular activities of the compulsory education; and for training courses and sports camps organized by local authorities and intended for children up to and including 12 years old.

    Sports facilities also remain accessible for competitions and training of professional athletes; and for activities other than sports, authorized under the provisions of the ministerial decree and protocols in force.

    Competitions and professional training can take place but without an audience, indoors and outdoors.

    As an amateur, competitions and training are only permitted for under 12s, in the presence of a maximum of one parent, only outdoors.

    Animation

    Camps, courses and activities with children under 12, without overnight stay, are authorized. The number of people participating in these activities is limited to 50, guides included. For the latter, wearing a mask is compulsory.

    Ceremonies

    Weddings, burials, cremations, religious services and non-denominational services can be organized in the presence of a maximum of 40 people

    Reminder of existing federal measures

    The new rules build on the already existing federal foundation.

    As a reminder, this provides that teleworking remains the rule. Contacts without distancing (close contacts) are limited to 1 person. Private gatherings are limited to the same 4 people for two weeks. Gatherings in the public domain are limited to a maximum of 4 people.

    The markets remain open, but the consumption of food and drink is prohibited. Flea markets, brocantes and Christmas markets are prohibited.

    Cafes and restaurants are closed. Take-out meals are available until 22h00.

    Night shops must close at 122h00. The sale of alcohol is prohibited after 20h00.

    Regional variations

    Flanders applies the ban on movement in the public space between midnight and 05h00, except for essential journeys, which cannot be postponed.

    Wallonia and Brussels apply a stricter curfew from 22h00 to 06h00.

    The city-region of Brussels requires the wearing of face masks in all public spaces.

  • 23 Oct 2020 10:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Today (23 October) the Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has announced a series of measures to combat COVID19 in sports, cultural events and (higher) education, in accordance with Alert level 4, that will come into force immediately.


    Stricter rules are essential to avoid overwhelming hospitals, having to close all schools, to prevent the entire economy from shutting down, and not isolating too many citizens with a widespread lockdown.

    The additional measures to combat COVID19 are:

    • Sporting events: All professional indoor and outdoor sports competitions will be held without an audience. All amateur competitions are suspended. Competitions for young people up to the age of 18 are still allowed, but only one family member can attend. It remains forbidden to sell or consume food and drink at these events.
    • Higher education: the occupancy rate of the premises drops to a maximum of 20% with the obligation to wear a mask, except for practical work where this is not possible. This rule does not apply to first year students.
    • Indoor events and activities (cultural, religious, educational, associative): maximum 40 people are allowed if there are sufficient guarantees that the organization of the event allows to respect the COVID rules, and maximum 200 people for compliance with the 1.5 meter distance rule and wearing a mask. The sale of food and drink is prohibited.
    • Public transport: each authority ensures, within the framework of its powers, that the capacity of public transport is optimized in order to avoid overcrowding.
    • Amusement parks are temporarily closed.
    • Animal parks: indoor spaces are closed to the public; it is forbidden to sell or consume food and drink.
    • Teleworking remains the rule. It has been decided with the employers' federations to set up a monitoring system aimed at empowering people, in order to apply the rule of teleworking as soon as possible.

    In view of the urgency of the situation, these rules come into force directly and will be applicable as soon as they are published, on Friday October 23, 2020. The rules will remain in force until November 19, 2020 inclusive, with an interim evaluation after two weeks.

    You are also reminded of the rules for alert level 4 which have already been in force since Monday, 19 October:

    • Close contacts are limited to 1 person maximum.
    • Private gatherings are limited to 4 people for two weeks, always the same.
    • Gatherings on public roads are limited to a maximum of 4 people.
    • Small-scale markets and fairs remain open, but the consumption of food and drink is prohibited there. Flea markets, flea markets and small Christmas markets are prohibited.
    • Cafes and restaurants will be closed. This measure is valid for a period of four weeks and will be subject to an evaluation after two weeks. On-site takeaway collection remains possible until 22h00. Receptions and banquets organized by a professional caterer or catering service are prohibited, except in hotels for clients staying there and funeral receptions (maximum 40 people).
    • Night shops must close at 22h00. The sale of alcohol is prohibited after 20h00.
    • Prohibition on being on the public highway between midnight and 05h00, except for essential travel that cannot be postponed, such as travel for urgent medical reasons, business travel and the trip between home and work.

    Read the original press release (in French) here.

  • 20 Oct 2020 6:06 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Two of the Brussels Childbirth Trust's (BCT) main goals from the very beginning have been supporting families on their journey through pregnancy and birth and then providing them with a social network once the baby is there.


    The BCT's home base in Wezembeek-Oppem has played an important role in this over the past decades. But since the international community and BCT members have concentrated more in Brussels itself, the Trust has tried to stay close to them by also offering venues closer to the heart of Brussels.

    In May 2020, BCT decided to move to Ixelles: the new Clubhouse is the perfect community space for parents and their children to meet with others and hang out, a space where children can play and parents can find support and look for information. Where they can spend hours together – and sometimes even parents without their children, at pre- and postnatal yoga sessions, member courses on parenting, job skills or art, or the BCT's information talks. This new space was created with children in mind, as an inspiring place to feel at home and make friends – a “home away from home”.

    To find out more about what makes the BCT “a home from home” for their member families, visit the BCT website  or like their Facebook page.

  • 19 Oct 2020 2:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Many expats choose to stay in Belgium after they retire, deciding to enjoy the widely-recognised benefits that Belgium has to offer in retirement. A new hands-on guide ‘Golden years in Belgium: an expat guide to life after retirement’, has been produced by the King Baudouin Foundation and the Federation of Notaries, offering tips on how to enjoy retirement in Belgium.


    The practical guide covers every area from meeting people and buying property to health care and welfare. It takes expats through their pension and inheritance rights and informs them how to get in touch and maintain links with their new community, while retaining a sense of well-being and purpose. It offers practical advice and useful addresses, while encouraging the reader to take action at an early stage.

    “Golden years in Belgium: an expat guide to life after retirement” is one of a series of practical guides that have been published jointly by the King Baudouin Foundation and the Federation of Notaries (Fednot). It can be downloaded free of charge from the King Baudouin Foundation's website.

    Other practical guides in the series are also available from the Fednot site.

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