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Brussels British Community Association

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 -----------

  • 29 Oct 2020 9:50 AM | Tim Reynolds (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.


    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.


    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.


    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 | Tim Reynolds (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 | Tim Reynolds (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 | Tim Reynolds (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.

  • 17 Oct 2020 10:53 AM | Tim Reynolds (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 | Tim Reynolds (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 | Tim Reynolds (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 | Tim Reynolds (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 | Tim Reynolds (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 | Tim Reynolds (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.

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