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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 -----------

  • 17 Oct 2020 10:53 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A press release from the Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo has confirmed the outcomes of Friday’s Consultation Committee. The committee considered the worrying epidemiological situation, which places the entire country at alert level 4 on the COVID-19 barometer (very high alert level).

    The pressure on hospitals and on the continuity of care for conditions unrelated to Covid-19 is increasing. Certain hospitals are suffering from high absences among their staff. Primary care, especially general medicine, is also facing increasing pressure.

    The number of COVID patients in intensive care today is 2.5 times higher than at the end of March.

    To prevent increasing problems in hospitals, to avoid closing schools, shutting down the economy, and forcing that too many people into a general lockdown, the committee decided on a series of measures:

    • Close contacts are limited to 1 person maximum.
    • Private gatherings are limited to 4 people for two weeks, always the same people.
    • Gatherings on public roads are limited to a maximum of 4 people.
    • Teleworking becomes the rule, for the jobs that lend themselves to it and while respecting the continuity of the management of companies and organizations, services and activities.
    • Small-scale markets and fairs remain open, but the consumption of food and drink is prohibited. Flea markets and small Christmas markets are prohibited.
    • Cafes, bars 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 (a curfew) between midnight (24h00) and 05h00, except for essential trips that cannot be postponed, such as trips for urgent medical reasons, business trips and the journey between home and work.
    • Activities inside continue to fall under the protocols in force until their assessment on 23 October. The sale of food and drink is prohibited.
    • Sports competitions: reduction by half of the compartments reserved for spectators, which will be reduced from 400 to 200 (professionals) or composed only of members of the same household (amateurs). Cafeterias and drinking establishments at sports grounds are closed.
    • These measures come into effect on Monday October 19 and will apply for a month, before being subject to an assessment.

    More information on the new measures can be found here.

    Install Coronalert on your smartphone

    Coronalert is a free and easy-to-use mobile application that strengthens our common fight against the coronavirus. If a person tests positive for Covid-19, they can directly notify high-risk cross-contacts in the previous hours and days. This application acts in addition to traditional contact monitoring - reinforced contact monitoring is one of the keys to combating the coronavirus.

    In addition, if you take a screening test, you will receive the results directly on your phone.

    To make this app as efficient as possible, we encourage as many smartphone users as possible to use it. It has been developed taking care to guarantee our privacy as much as possible: it is not based on geolocation and does not use any of your personal data.

    You will find all the information and answers to your questions about the app here.

  • 16 Oct 2020 8:43 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Following a tense discussion at today's consultation committee, a set of more restrictive measures to combat COVID-19 has been announced by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Belgium is now entering phase 4: a "very serious" alert phase.

    De Croo stated that the Belgian health situation is alarming with the figures being significantly higher today than what was seen in March and April and all indicators continuing to increase.

    The main new measures are:

    • The Social Bubble: Your close contact bubble should be reduced to one person.
    • Teleworking to become the norm: when this is not possible, every effort must be made to protect employees
    • All Horeca establishments (cafes, bars, restaurants) will close for one month, with an evaluation within two weeks to see if the measure should remain in place. This measure should come into force on Monday. A support plan is being proposed for the sector.
    • Small-scale markets may remain open with a maximum of 200 people. However, the Christmas markets are canceled.
    • Alcohol sales will be prohibited from 20h00.
    • A curfew will be adopted from midnight to 05h00.

    "We realize that these measures are very harsh, even unfair. But unfortunately the virus is also unfair, it affects us all and in particular the oldest people. The virus affects our society in a particularly hard way," said the Prime Minister. "But the time to act is now".

  • 9 Oct 2020 12:31 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Expat Welcome Desk of the Brussels Commissioner's office invites you to a free webinar on 27 October from 12h00 to 13h30 on 'Social security consequences of cross border employment in the EU.'

    The webinar (in English) will focus on the impact of international mobility on the social security contributions and benefits of employees in the EU. It will be given by Ms An De Wever and Mrs Inge Janssens, both legal advisor at Pro-Pay NV and moderated by Amélie Bovy, legal adviser at Expat Welcome Desk.

    Topics to be covered include:

    • Where do I contribute to the social security system if I live in one member state of the EU and work in another member state?
    • Does the fact that my employer has its registered seat abroad have an impact on where I pay social security contributions?
    • What happens if I have worked in Belgium under the Belgian social security scheme and move to another country? Do I lose my social benefits?
    • I work on a regular basis in the UK and hold a valid A1 form covering my international employment situation. What will happen on 01.01.2021 when the UK leaves the EU?
    • I work in multiple countries but I am subject to social security contributions in a country that is not my home country. Does the fact that I work (more) at home in my home country due to COVID-19 have an impact on where I have to pay social security contributions?

    How to register?

    This webinar is free to access, but you must register by 16h00 on Friday 23 October by sending an email to: inscription@commissioner.brussels

    Practical information including the link to access the meeting will  be sent to you after your registration.

  • 7 Oct 2020 2:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Some good news! BBCA member group the English Youth Theatre (EYT) is creating extra classes for kids and young people to experience the thrills of performing arts. The new class will be close to the EU Quarter.

    The EYT currently organises groups in Woluwe (Full) and Uccle (growing) and has now decided to open a new teaching centre in the EU Quarter of Brussels. Classes will take place every Saturday from mid-morning to early afternoon at the British Chamber of Commerce (1 minute's walk from Madou metro station). This group will eventually migrate to the Flagey / Châtelain neighbourhood of Ixelles.

    If you are interested in joining the EYT group, visit the website and download the registration form (at the foot of the page) and getting in touch with EYT at: admin[at]englishyouththeatre.be 

  • 6 Oct 2020 11:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    New Belgian Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo (pictured below), has this evening (6 October) announced new measures to combat the growing rate of COVID-19 infections. In addition, a COVID-19 Commissioner has been appointed: Pedro Facon, director general for health at Belgium's Federal Public Service Health (FPSH).

    The current evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic is causing particular concern: the number of contaminations, hospital admissions and deaths is increasing. In order to avoid a return to a general lockdown containment, a number of strengthened measures to contain the virus have been decided.

    These measures are:

    • Close contacts: limitation to a maximum of 3 close contacts per month. Close contact is contact with a person within 1.50m without a mask.
    • Private gatherings at home: maximum 4 people, respecting safety distances or wearing a mask if this is not possible.
    • Cafes, cafeterias and other places where drinks are served: maximum 4 people per table, except people living under the same roof.
    • Unorganized gatherings outside: maximum 4 people, except for people living under the same roof.
    • Cafés closing time: 11:00 pm.
    • Additional efforts in terms of awareness and respect so that these measures are applied everywhere.
    • Telework is strongly recommended, several days a week
    These measures constitute the “national base”. In provinces where the situation worsens, the governor may propose additional measures, in consultation with the Minister of the Interior and the COVID-19 commissioner. These measures may apply to the whole province or part of it.

    Strict monitoring of these measures is absolutely necessary to protect healthcare services, to keep schools open to the fullest and to protect the elderly and the vulnerable. If these measures are not followed, even stricter measures will be required. Our social life will be further reduced and our economy will be seriously damaged. Respecting these measures is everyone's responsibility.

    These measures apply to the whole of Belgium from Friday 9 October to 9 November inclusive, after which they will be subject to evaluation.

    Original press release text in French.

  • 5 Oct 2020 8:36 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    After a break over the summer months, the good people at UNICEF Belgium have put together another anagram quiz to exercise your grey cells and at the same time make a contribution to UNICEF.

    This time, the answers are the names of (mostly) well-known animals. As before, the number of letters corresponding to each clue is given in parentheses and the number in bold represents the total number of letters in the animal’s name. The quiz sheet can be downloaded here.

    For the tie-break question this month, another sporting question will be used. This time it will be the total number of points scored in the final of the European Rugby Cup to be played between Racing 92 of Paris and the Exeter Chiefs on Saturday, 17 October at 18h45 Belgian time.

    As a guide for those not au fait with the world of Rugby Union, the total points scored in the four quarter-final and two semi-final matches were 34, 42, 44, 46, 53 and 63. The two teams contesting the final are Exeter, who scored 38 and 28 points in their quarter-final and semi-final matches and Racing 92 whose equivalent scores were 38 and 38 points.

    All answers must be submitted no later than 13h00 Belgian time on Saturday 17 October and the winners will be announced on Sunday 18 October.

    The winner and ‘Animal Anagram Quiz Champion’ will be the person who has the highest score and whose tie-break answer (if applicable) is closest to the true actual number of total points scored.

    Prizes - The winner will receive three bottles of Petit Pas Saint Emilion Grand Cru. There will also be a prize of a bottle of champagne for the person who does not achieve the highest quiz score but whose tie-break answer is closest to the actual number of total points scored.

    How to enter - To enter the quiz email your answers to unicefquiz@gmail.com to arrive no later than 13h00 Belgian time on Saturday 17 October.

    The suggested entry fee for the quiz is EUR 10 payable directly to the Ex-Pats for UNICEF account: BE83 3630 2680 8315 and mark your transfer 'October Quiz'.

    Donate - Even if you do not wish to participate in the quiz, please consider making a donation to UNICEF. All money raised by UNICEF Belgium this year will go to support the WASH (WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene) project in Rwanda.

    Please feel free to distribute this announcement widely to your friends, colleagues and fellow quiz team members. With many thanks for your continued support for UNICEF in these difficult times.

  • 4 Oct 2020 6:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The British Chamber of Commerce in Brussels is launching a new video series entitled 'Afternoon Tea with' featuring interviews with personalities from the community in and around Brussels. In the 15-minute interview, the interviewee talks about their perspective on ‘life in Brussels’.

    The first episode has just been posted and the interviewee is Melanie Warnes, principal of the British School of Brussels.

  • 28 Sep 2020 3:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    COVID-19 restrictions in the Brussels-Capital Region have been updated/ increased following a meeting of the Crisis Cell on 26 September.

    The following measures have been announced for the Brussels-Capital Region that will come into force on Thursday 1 October, apart from those affecting closing times, which are implemented immediately from today (Monday 28 September), and will last for at least the next three weeks.

    • Cafes and bars (but not restaurants) must close at 23h00.
    • Ban on gatherings of more than 10 people between 23h00 and 06h00. Controls will be tightened to ensure compliance.
    • Bookstores with a play/games area and any other shop selling food or drinks must close at 22h00, following the same rule that already applies to night shops.
    • No food may be consumed at street markets.
    • The obligation to wear a mask outdoors is lifted generally (but see the points below), however each person must carry a face mask on their person at all times .
    • Wearing a mask will become mandatory outdoors in crowded zones from October 1. These 'crowded zones' and the hours of implementation will be fixed for each municipality by their own mayor.
    • It is still compulsory to wear a mask in public spaces, shops and around schools.
    • Outside these areas, wearing a mask will remain strongly recommended whenever the situation does not allow physical distancing.

    The crisis cell also announced that CVID-19 testing capacities will be gradually strengthened from next week, by setting up four “villages” as well as three branches in the city centre.

  • 26 Sep 2020 1:39 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There are more than you think! This music video produced by long-term BBCA member Martin Watson made me smile. Bon weekend!

    "Belgium is just delicious with beer, chocolates and fries - and more famous people than you realise! Celebrating lovely Belgium."

  • 26 Sep 2020 11:55 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    COVID-19 is still with us and likely to remain a risk to health for the near to mid-term. Test and trace is a key element in containing the virus. But where and how to get a test in Brussels?

    Our colleagues at the Expat Welcome Desk of the Brussels Commissioner' office have recently sent out details of how to get a test.

    This interactive map shows all Covid-19 screening centres in the Brussels-Capital Region (screenshot above) and the conditions for being tested: with or without symptoms, prescription or appointment.

    Do you have symptoms?

    Obligatory testing for people with symptoms: do you have a cough, fever or breathing difficulties? Do you no longer have a sense of smell or taste? If the GP suspects that you have COVID-19, he/ she will either test you themselves or refer you to the local triage centre indicated for individuals with symptoms of COVID-19. The PCR or swab test you take will be sent to the lab for analysis that same day. In the case where you do not have a GP, call 1710.

    Stay at home as long as you haven’t received the test results. In the meantime, your GP will ask you to make a list of all the people you came into contact with up to two days before your symptoms began. This list will only be used if your test is positive, as part of contact tracing procedures. Testing is free of charge.


    From October 1, the quarantine period is shortened from 14 to 7 days and a new quarantine system will apply.

    If you have symptoms of COVID you should contact your doctor and isolate yourself immediately for 7 days. You will need to take a test as soon as possible.

    If the test is positive: the quarantine continues.

    If the test is negative: as soon as your clinical situation allows it, you can be released from quarantine.

    If you have no symptoms but have had close contact with a positive person. As soon as you learn about it or are contacted by contact tracing, you must immediately quarantine yourself for 7 days, from the last day on which you had close contact with the infected person. It is important to only quarantine yourself when you have had close contact with the positive person.

    You make an appointment to take a single test on the 5th day.

    If this test is positive: your quarantine is extended for 7 days.

    If this test is negative: you should no longer be in quarantine after the 7th day.


    From Friday, September 25, going to "orange zones" and "red zones is strongly discouraged, but no longer prohibited. When you come back from an "orange zone", a COVID test will not be mandatory.

    Travellers returning from a "red zone" will have to quarantine themselves from the first day of their return (for 7 days) and take a test on day 5. They can avoid this obligation if they complete a self-assessment document, which, after analysis, would authorise them to do so.

    Centres for (non-reimbursed) private testing

    Are you traveling to a country where you can only enter after a PCR test? Do you need to get tested for another reason? In these cases, you can go to your GP or to a private test centre without a medical prescription. These tests are not reimbursed by compulsory health insurance.

    For more information, check out this website or call 0800 14 689 (toll free).

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