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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 -----------

  • 24 Sep 2020 5:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Following the Belgian National Security Council meeting on Wednesday 23 September a number of new or revised measures were announced by Prime Minister, Sophie Wilmès including the launch of the risk management strategy: citizen empowerment.

    The six 'golden rules' continue to apply and remain central to the strategy. They are:

    • Follow the hygiene rules;
    • Organise your activities preferably outside;
    • Protect vulnerable people;
    • Keep a 1.5m distance (and wear a mask where this is not possible);
    • Limit your close contacts; and 
    • Follow rules on gatherings.

    Social contacts

    The 5-person contact bubble concept disappears as of 1 October. Instead of the bubble, there will be a “reference figure” that will vary between 1 and 5, depending on the health situation. At the moment, experts recommend a maximum of 5 close contacts per person per month, but the number must be limited as much as possible. Close contact means being physically close to someone who does not live under the same roof, for more than 15 minutes, without keeping a distance and without a facemask.

    Apart from those close contacts, people can see as many people as they want, if they keep their distance and respect the hygiene rules (If you can't keep 1.5m distance, wear a mask).

    It is still not allowed to see more than 10 people in the same place, at the same time (children not included in the 10).

    Epidemic barometer

    There will be an epidemic barometer system at national, regional and provincial level so that decisions can be taken quickly if the situation improves or deteriorates. This will also offer more perspective in the long term. It will work in the form of stages, which will be determined mainly – but not exclusively – by the number of people admitted to hospital. The development of the barometer is not finished yet, but is expected in two weeks’ time. It will be implemented gradually.


    For gatherings, a difference is made between private and professional gatherings.

    For private gatherings, the maximum number of guests remains at 10.

    Professionally organised events, such as receptions or weddings, will follow the same rules as the hospitality industry as of 1 October. There will be no limit on the maximum number of guests allowed, as it will depend on the capacity of the place. The protocols must still be followed, and dance parties are still not allowed.

    For events with an audience, the limit remains at 200 for indoor and 400 outdoor events.

    Telework - Working from home

    Telework remains recommended, if possible


    From October 1, the quarantine will be 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.

    These rules show that keeping your distance is imperative to avoiding unnecessary quarantine if you are symptom-free.


    From this Friday, September 25, going to "orange zones" and "red zones will be strongly discouraged, but no longer prohibited in order to establish harmonised rules with other European countries.

    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.

    These instructions do not apply to people who stay less than 48 hours in a red zone (for example: cross-border workers).

    Face masks

    As of October 1, the mask will no longer be compulsory outdoors except in extremely busy places, where safety distances cannot be respected. These places are determined by the local authorities. A mask is still compulsory in well-defined covered places such as public transport, shops or cinemas for example; regardless of their level of attendance. Wearing a mask is also compulsory when distances cannot be guaranteed.

    The App

    The Coronalert smartphone app will be launched on September 30. A press conference at the end of the month will give more information on the initiative.

  • 2 Sep 2020 5:59 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    September is usually the month when social clubs invite expats and newcomers to Brussels to visit their clubhouses to find out about the many social and cultural activities on offer. However, due to COVID-19 restrictions limiting events to 10 people, the BCWCB (British & Commonwealth Women's Club of Brussels) has decided to be creative and moved part of their traditional Open Day online.

    The club is organising two Open Info Sessions via Zoom  on Tuesday 8 September and Thursday 17 September from 19h00 - 20h30. The sessions will be fun and informative, featuring short interviews with the club's activity leaders, from watercolour painting to jewellery making, from bridge meets to golf tournaments.

    Even now, during the pandemic, the Club still organises activities while keeping everyone safe, such as online bridge, Zoom language classes, golf and walking. English-speaking women from all nationalities and all walks of life living in or near Brussels are welcome to register for the Zoom sessions by sending an email to: chairman@BCWCB.org.

  • 20 Aug 2020 6:23 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Following a meeting of the Belgian National Security Council (NSC) today (Thursday, August 20) Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has announced that the recent reinforced measures had achieved the intended results: stabilising the health situation and ‘immunising’ the start of the school year.

    The PM announced a number of decisions affecting daily life:

    • From 24 August shopping will again be allowed in pairs and the 30-minute time limit per store will be lifted.
    • The maximum allowed "social bubble" (close contacts with whom social distancing may not be respected) remains at five people per household until at least the end of September. Other social gatherings remain limited to 10 people.
    • The maximum audience limit at events will be increased again, from 100 to 200 indoors and from 200 to 400 outdoors. Up to 50 people will be allowed to attend a reception after a funeral.
    • And couples in a long-distance relationship will be allowed to travel abroad to see each other from 1 September.

    In the education sector Wilmès announced that all students will be able to return to school at the start of the new school year on 1 September, at all levels of education, on the basis of the "yellow code" established by the communes. The yellow code refers to a situation where the presence of the virus is still active although controlled. This system will allow a normal school week of 5 days, subject to compliance with certain health measures, such as the compulsory wearing of a mask for pupils over 12 years old and for teachers and the suspension of certain extracurricular activities in the secondary schools.

    In addition to this common regime, in communes where peaks of contamination are observed, a switch to an orange colour code will then be decided by the ministers of education. This colour code implies adjustments, such as a reduced number of course days for the second and third stages of secondary education. Parents, children and teachers will be informed directly by schools.

    At the higher education level, given the later start of the school year, consultations are still taking place to harmonise the rules that will apply on student campuses.

    "The virus is still spreading," said prime minister Sophie Wilmès. "We know that no measure alone can eliminate the virus - we need a vaccine. The virus will continue to circulate, so we need to learn to live with it."

    Wilmès stated that the estimated coronavirus infection rate in Belgium is currently 0.9, meaning the virus is in decline, but added: "We must keep up our efforts. Returning to normal today is not possible.”

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

    The Bulletin's COVID-19 webpage (updated daily)

  • 31 Jul 2020 10:29 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The UK government has launched a public information campaign across Europe to help UK nationals prepare for the end of the UK's transition period on December 31.

    British nationals residing in Belgium will receive information on the specific measures they must take to maintain their rights but also to access services in Belgium, in particular regarding residence, healthcare, driving licenses and passports.

    The campaign will use multiple channels - including Facebook, digital media and newspaper advertising - urging those affected to take the necessary steps to protect their rights so that they can continue to live, work and travel in Europe after the transition period.

    In addition to this major information campaign, the British Embassy in Belgium is already working with several community groups, including the BBCA, but also directly with British nationals to inform and reassure them.

    This includes providing information and support through public briefings and question-and-answer sessions attended by ambassadors and consular experts.

    British Ambassador to Belgium Martin Shearman said:

    “Protecting the rights of UK nationals is a top priority for us. This is why we have counselled and reassured UK nationals, to make sure they have all the information they need and that they have the certainty of their rights.

    “Brits in Belgium should consult our 'Living in Belgium' guides where they can learn the steps to follow and get important information on residency, healthcare, passports and driving licenses in Belgium. "

    The UK government also announced last year up to £ 3 million in grants for charities and other voluntary organizations to provide practical support to help vulnerable UK nationals who may find it difficult to complete applications for residence or registration - for example, people with mobility difficulties, disabled people or even the elderly. These groups may need additional assistance in completing the paperwork for the end of the transition period.

    This additional assistance will build on the support that British Embassies have already provided since November 2017 with more than 775 events with British nationals.

    The next event in Belgium is a Facebook Q&A session on Wednesday 5 August from 17h00 – see details below.

  • 27 Jul 2020 4:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Following a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has today (27 July) confirmed that from 29 July, for at least four weeks, the ‘social bubble’ in Belgium will be reduced from 15 to five people. This five-person limit is per household - not per person. And the bubble must be the same five people for the whole four-week period.

    For private events, such as family get-togethers and weddings, the limit is now 10 people. For organised events, the maximum audience has been halved with the limit at 100 people indoors and 200 people outdoors with the wearing of face masks compulsory.

    In addition, and for the same period, you must shop alone again, unless accompanying children or with a person in need. The maximum time allowed in any shop returns to 30 minutes. And, where possible, working from home is strongly encouraged.

    Your contact details should also be collected if you visit a sports clubs, the hairdressers, beauty salons etc. The full list of applicable venues will be published shortly.

    Finally to avoid crowding in parts of the country, the offer to grant free train travel to citizens will be postponed until September.

    This tightening of coronavirus measures follows a recent 71% surge in new infections in Belgium. PM Wilmès said the new restrictions were "very strong", but the alternative would be a renewal of the full lockdown.

    Local authorities are also urged to introduce more stringent local measures to combat virus 'hotspots. This is currently the case in the province of Antwerp where the local authorities have imposed a curfew from 23h30 to 6h00, teleworking is now mandatory, limitations to sporting activities apply, and restaurant and bars’ closing time has been brought forward. Even stricter rules apply within the city of Antwerp and its immediate surrounding municipalities where all events are prohibited and sport clubs are closed. People from outside the province are asked not to come to Antwerp.

    You can find the press release (in French) with full details here.

    Sciensano statistics updates. The latest update to the COVID-19 epidemiological situation in Belgium (in English) can be found here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

    The Bulletin's COVID-19 webpage (updated daily)

  • 24 Jul 2020 2:42 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As part of measures to contain COVID-19 and be able to tack and trace potential infection you may need to fill in a new form before or upon arrival back in Belgium from your holidays. All passengers aged 16 or older must fill in the form.

    The 'Belgium_PassengerLocatorForm' must be completed by all passengers arriving in Belgium following a stay outside the Schengen Area, or, in a high-risk area as defined by the Belgian authorities and located inside the EU+ area. The UK is within the 'EU+' area.

    Details of the current list of high risk/ red areas both for travel to and from Belgium within the EU+ area can be found here. In the UK only Leicester is a defined high risk area at the time of writing, but other parts of the UK are deemed 'orange' at the moment (Midlands, North East & Yorkshire, North West and Northern Ireland).

    COVID testing and a 14 day quarantine are obligatory if returning from a 'red' zone and recommended if travelling from an orange zone.

    Bon voyage!

  • 23 Jul 2020 2:49 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Today, Thursday 23 July, the Belgian National Security Council has agreed to postpone Phase 5 of COVID-19 deconfinement due to a deterioration in the general trends with respect to the virus in Belgium.

    "From the start, we have been told that the phases would correlate with the figures for the pandemic," warned Sophie Wilmès at a press conference following the Council meeting. She also outlined some additional measures that will be put in place across the country.

    There will be no increase in the maximum number of people allowed for receptions and fairs and exhibitions may not always allowed.

    The resumption of ‘normal’ activities is still scheduled for September 1, but will be subject to a very strict health protocol and the compulsory wearing of face masks.

    Face masks – new rules

    From this Saturday, July 25, the wearing of face masks will be mandatory in all markets, flea markets, fairgrounds, in shopping streets and any place with large amounts of people, whether a private or public domain.

    Each commune will define precisely the areas where facemask will be mandatory.

    Wearing a facemask will also be compulsory in public buildings and in catering establishments, except when diners are seated at the table.

    In all other cases, wearing a mask is always strongly recommended, especially when there are people and when it is difficult to respect safe distancing.

    The closing time for night shops will now be 22h00 to avoid gatherings in public areas.

    Local lockdown

    Reconfinement at the local level will now be the responsibility of mayors at commune level. They can intervene within the framework of the decisions of the National Security Council, but they have the flexibility to act locally if there is a deterioration in the health situation in their commune.

    In some cases, local containment may be possible. The mayors will have to contact the district governors and the regional authorities so that the measures are applied in a consistent manner.

    Where did you eat?

    Everyone visiting a bar or restaurant must complete a form indicating their email address or telephone number, which will be used to contact them in the event of potential contamination.

    “After 15 days, without contamination, this information will be destroyed. And it will not be used for purposes other than those related to the coronavirus," stated the Prime Minister.

    Social bubble

    Each person’s social bubble remains at 15 people per week – not per day. "If everyone strictly respects the rule, we should not touch this bubble to which we hold so much," said Sophie Wilmès. However, to maintain this situation "will depend on the behaviour of each and every one of us."

    Medical situation

    The reason for these new measures stems from a 89% increase in COVID19 cases compared to last week. The number of Covid-19 infections has been accelerating for several days. Between 12 July and 18 July 18, there were an average of 184.3 new cases detected per day. Hospital admissions are also on an upward trend.

    You can watch the 23 July press conference below or read the press release (in French) here.

  • 8 Jul 2020 2:30 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Belgian Foreign ministry has issued a list of 'orange' countries, including the UK, for which a period of 14 days quarantine and taking a coronavirus test is recommended following a visit. The current orange list covers Cyprus, Denmark, Greece, Iceland, Portugal, Spain and the UK.

    Travel to the orange zones is strongly discouraged, but not banned. Travellers returning from one of the listed countries are strongly advised to take a coronavirus test, a second test after nine days, and self-isolate for 14 days.

    The foreign ministry may also apply a 'red' zone label to specific cities, districts or regions within a country if a severe COVID-19 outbreak occurs. Four whole countries are currently classified 'red': Ireland, Finland, Malta and Norway.

    Travel to these red zones from Belgium is forbidden. If you return to Belgium from a red zone, you will have to take two coronavirus tests - on arrival and nine days later - and self-isolate for 14 days.

    Update. In Flanders, fines of up to EUR 4 000 euros and even a prison sentence of up to six months may be applied if people do not comply with the new travel rules. This is the competency of the regions and might vary in other parts of the country.

    In other travel news, SNCB will be launching an app in September that will show passengers how busy a train is before they board. And police have warned that, from this week, anyone caught not wearing a mask on SNCB trains and in stations will be fined €250 rather than a verbal caution. Federal police intend to reinforce spot checks between now and September on platforms and in trains.

  • 29 Jun 2020 9:22 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    From the weekend the long awaited DeLijn 'TramBus' service - Line 820 - has launched. The service runs from UZ Brussel hospital in Jette to Zaventem airport via Heysel, Koningslo, Vilvoorde town centre, Machelen and Diegem.

    The 24-metre-long vehicles uses hybrid fuel cell technology, can carry up to 137 passengers and can use tram lines while having the flexibility of a bus elsewhere. More information here.

    Exchange your mag stripe tickets

    It is possible to exchange your valid/ unused magnetic cards for SMS or electronic card tickets either online (from 1 July) or a DeLijn shop or point of sale.

  • 26 Jun 2020 5:58 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    During 2020, BBCA member the British & Commonwealth Women's Club (BCWCB), is supporting two fantastic charities:

    • Parkinson’s Association Belgium who help patients and their families in all aspects of this illness.
    • Giraffe Children’s Charity that provides education, from primary through to college or university, for very deprived children in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya helping them to become productive citizens. 

    Would you like to help raise funds for these charities? This year the BCWCB is organising sponsored walks along “La Promenade Verte” – the Green Walk – encircling Brussels in seven stages and spaced out over several weeks in July and early September. For more information contact the BCWCB Chairperson.

    You can find more information on the full walk here including detailed descriptions of the route. A complete book with maps is also available free of charge on request from Brussels Environnement.

    If you would like to support these charities, you can sponsor the walkers by simply making a donation to the dedicated BCWCB Club account. Thank you! We will publish the results of the fundraising later this year.

    Payment by bank transfer to: IBAN: BE04 2100 1552 7631 BIC: GEBABEBB – Mention: CHARITY WALK DONATION (very important to mention this).

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