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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 -----------

  • 7 Dec 2021 4:45 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Welcome one and all to the BBCA’s 2021 festive thematic! Last year various members of the BBCA Council shared some of their favourite winter walks and bike rides. This year we are turning to some favourite bakes and recipes. Kicking off the series of articles, Tim Reynolds shares his method to clot cream – yes even Belgian cream!

    With supply chains well and truly up the creek in the immediate post-Brexit transition we all faced some serious obstacles to obtaining supplies of traditional UK delicacies in Belgium. Over the years, the Lee Reynolds household has managed to wean ourselves off many items or discovered acceptable continental alternatives.

    But for some consumables that is just not possible. One is leaf tea that actually makes a real strong cuppa. A second is the traditional Pork Pie – any news on a reliable source gratefully received. And the third is Cornish (or you may substitute your favourite British Isles regional variation here) Clotted Cream.

    However, I have found that you can make your own! It is fairly long-winded, but you do end up with a reasonable 'dollop' of definitely clotted cream.


    There is just one ingredient: one (1) litre (or whatever you can get your hands on) of 'double' cream (or your local equivalent).

    Now double cream is also not so easy to find in Belgium / Europe and most of it is UHT treated. I had been reliably informed by a reputable food scientist that cream that has been Ultra-High Temperature (UHT) processed will not clot - but I thought I'd give it a go anyway.

    The cream I use is from my local Delhaize store (see below) that has between 35 and 40% fat content (depending on the volume bought: 200ml declares 35%, while the one litre tetra Pak declares 40% despite having identical packaging).

    It is described as creme culinaire et fouettable (i.e., whippable) and is stored in the chiller cabinet but has also been UHT treated. In the US I think it would be described as 'heavy' cream. All Belgian supermarkets should have an equivalent. If you can get cream that has been pasteurised but not 'UHT'd' - then the method may work even better.


    Take your cream and place it in a largish shallow ovenproof dish. The cream should be no more than a few centimetres deep (see below).

    Then you need to 'slow cook' your cream at 80 degrees centigrade for around 8-10 hours (lower for longer if you can). Overnight is about right.

    The cream will form a crust (see below). After the low, slow bake take the dish out of the oven, let it cool and then place the dish in the fridge to chill further.

    By 'teatime' it should all be ready. Take the dish out of the fridge and skim/ peel the top clotted layer of cream off and 'modge' it up in a bowl.

    Et voila - clotted cream for your jam and scones! Apologies to unbelievers in the audience but we adopt the 'Cornish' cream on last approach to the 'which comes first' cream/ jam controversy. Also butter those scones!

    The remaining creamy/ milky stuff can be used as per heavy milk / light cream. However, it is no longer whippable - I know, I tried.

    The science bit

    As I was a research chemist in a previous life, I think you need to know what is going on here. Cream in milk is usually separated from the main liquid by sedimentation as the fat rises to the top - older British readers will remember the fat at the top of  bottles of full fat milk delivered to your doorstep by the local dairy. 

    To separate even more fat you heat up the cream. By gently heating up the cream you denature some of the milk whey proteins and destabilise the fat bubbles (aka micelles), helping the fat to float to the top of the mass. This is then slowly cooled to consolidate the ‘crust’.

    As a lapsed chemist I get a little anxious about yield and mass balances etc. So, I/ you need to know that for every litre of cream in, you should expect 400-450g of clotted cream out, together with around 400-450g of remaining creamy liquid.


  • 7 Dec 2021 4:23 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    On Thursday 9 December from 12 noon the Brussels Commissioner Expat Welcome Desk is holding a webinar (in English) focusing on all you need to know at the end of a lease contract in Belgium.

    The end of the lease is a crucial moment for the lessor and the lessee. It takes place at the end of the contractually agreed term or in the event of early termination at the initiative of the tenant. Early termination on the landlord's initiative is possible but subject to conditions. In all cases, there are issues of notice, the inventory of fixtures on departure, rental repairs, the return of the rental guarantee, etc etc. As with all such matters, understanding what is supposed to happen before the event can relieve some of the anxiety, ensure you are prepared, and expensive mistakes are not made.

    Primarily aimed at expats working for Belgian employers, this webinar is free to access, but requires prior registration by sending an email to the following e-mail address: inscription@commissioner.brussels

    The webinar itself will be given by Ms Zala Skandary and Mr. Jonas Deryckere, both attorneys at law at Athena Law Firm. The webinar will be moderated by Amélie BOVY, Senior legal adviser at the Expat Welcome Desk

    Practical information concerning the link to access the meeting will be sent via e-mail one day before the webinar. Remember to check your spam box !!!

    About The Expat Welcome Desk

    The Expat Welcome Desk (EWD) organises seminars on specific themes for target audiences. These seminars are conducted by specialists selected by the EWD in order to optimise preparation of the topics covered.

    If you would like to be informed about future EWD seminars, you can subscribe by sending an e-mail mentioning “Registration for future seminars” to seminars@commissioner.brussels.

  • 3 Dec 2021 4:21 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Today, 3 December 2021, the Belgian Consultative Committee again considered the impact of the current COVID-19 wave on the country and decided to limit activities indoors, to start the Christmas holidays for nursery and primary schools early (on December 20), and to move to hybrid education in secondary schools. Ministers emphasised the need for everyone to limit their indoor contacts as much as possible.

    The rate of infection is continuing to rise, as do hospitalizations and pressure on hospitals. Today, four in ten intensive care beds are occupied by COVID-19 patients, while 220 beds have had to be closed due to lack of medical staff. To reduce the infection rate and reduce the pressure on the healthcare sector as quickly as possible, the following decisions were taken:

    1. Obligation to wear a mask from 6 years old

    Where wearing a mask is already compulsory, it is now so for all people aged six ad above.

    2. Limiting social contact

    It is strongly recommended to keep your social contacts as low as possible and to meet outdoors preferably. The use of self-tests is recommended.

    3. Children and education

    The Christmas holidays for nursery and primary schools will start a week earlier, on Monday 20 December.

    Secondary education will be organized in a hybrid form up to the exams. Students who do not have access to digital tools will be able to benefit from distance learning within the school.

    In addition, from 6 December a series of measures intended to make the school environment safer will come into force:

    • the obligation to use a CO2 measuring device in every classroom and room where many people gather;
    • the implementation of a new protocol according to which a class will be closed as soon as two children are infected;
    • the general obligation to wear a mask from 6 years old;
    • a ban on all extracurricular activities; and
    • parents are recommended to carry out self tests of their children regularly.

    Part-time artistic education follows the same rules as those applicable to primary and secondary education.

    Face-to-face education will be organized for the most vulnerable pupils - certainly in special education. The ministers of education will determine how his is accomplished.

    The Vaccination task force will make rapid progress in the vaccination of children under 12, given the importance of vaccination in meeting the epidemiological challenge in education.

    4. Private indoor gatherings

    All private gatherings and activities inside are temporarily prohibited, including organized activities, but with the exception of sporting activities, groups at private homes or in low-capacity tourist accommodation, and weddings and funerals.

    5. Indoor public events

    From Saturday 4 December, events bringing together more than 4,000 people can no longer take place.

    From Monday, 6 December, events, cultural and other representations, as well as indoor conferences are authorized under the following conditions:

    • a maximum of 200 visitors;
    • a seated audience only;
    • mask wearing compulsory; and
    • the use of the Covid Safe Ticket for events of 50 visitors or more.

    Cinemas can accommodate a maximum of 200 people per room, subject to a distance of 1.5 m between each group.

    6. Outdoor public events

    Organizers are responsible for crowd management measures at outdoor events. The Committee called on local authorities to strictly monitor these measures. If these measures cannot be observed, the events must be cancelled.

    7. Telework

    The obligation to telework is maintained, with a maximum of one day in the workplace per week. “Team building” and other parties in the workplace are prohibited.

    8. Horeca

    Hospitality hours are limited from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

    9. Indoor sports competitions

    Indoor sports competitions should be organized without an audience. Underage participants may be accompanied by two adults.

    The above measures come into force on Saturday, 4 December, 2021.

    The Belgian Consultative Committee will reassess the epidemiological situation during the week of 20 December.

    The committee also reminds everyone that commune mayors are, at all times, responsible for cancelling events that could present an epidemiological risk, after consultation with the competent health authorities.

  • 29 Nov 2021 3:59 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    After a break of several months, UNICEF has once again put together an anagram quiz to exercise our minds in the lead up to Xmas and hopefully raise a significant amount to support the UNICEF cause in Belgium.

    Despite the broad success of the vaccination campaign, COVID-19 infection rates in many countries are on the rise and the imposition of new restrictions continues to dominate our lives. The pandemic compounds the day-to-day challenge faced by developing countries as they strive to maintain basic hygiene services and infrastructure and sustain their communities. UNICEF Belgium is at the forefront of this battle and continues to devote its attention to support WASH (WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene) projects in Rwanda. The money raised as a result of this quiz will again provide much-needed funding for this important cause.

    The quiz

    The Question sheet for the quiz can be downloaded here. For this quiz, the answers will be the names of both real and fictitious ISLANDS. There are 15 real and 5 fictitious islands to decipher/ discover. The number of letters corresponding to each clue for each question is in parentheses and the column of numbers in bold represents the total number of letters in the island’s name.

    For the tie-break question this time, you will need to guess the total number of goals that will be scored in the 10 football games that will be played in the English Premiership on Saturday, 18 December and Sunday, 19 December. The 10 games in question are listed below:

    Saturday 18 December Sunday 19 December
    Manchester United v Brighton and Hove Albion Everton v Leicester City
    Aston Villa v Burnley Wolverhampton Wanderers v Chelsea
    Southampton v Brentford Newcastle United v Manchester City
    Watford v Crystal Palace Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool
    West Ham United v Norwich City  
    Leeds United v Arsenal  

    How to enter

    To enter the quiz, please email your answers to unicefquiz@gmail.com to arrive no later than midnight CET (23.00 GMT) on Friday 17 December. The winners will be announced on Monday 20 December.

    The winner, and the ‘Island Anagram Quiz Champion’, will be the person who has the highest quiz score and whose tie-break answer (if applicable) is closest to the total number of goals scored. The winner will receive three bottles of 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 number of total goals scored.

    Entry fee

    The suggested minimum entry fee of EUR 10 should be transferred directly to the Ex-Pats for UNICEF Bank Account: BE83 3630 2680 8315 with a note of the nickname on your answer sheet and ‘Island Anagram Quiz’.

    If you do not wish to participate in the quiz, then please consider making a donation to this worthwhile cause and please feel free to spread the word to family, friends, colleagues and fellow quizzers.

  • 26 Nov 2021 5:09 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Today, 26 November, the Belgian COVID Consultative Committee noted the rapidly deteriorating COVID situation in the country and decided to adopt a new set of winter measures which will limit the number of contacts. As ever, BBCA has the full details. 

    The new decisions aim to slow the spread of the virus and making the workload in healthcare more manageable. These new measures will be (re)evaluated on 15 December.

    1. Additional vaccinations

    After the booster vaccine has been administered to vulnerable and specific target groups (65 years+, healthcare providers, people with immunodeficiency, people vaccinated with Johnson & Johnson vaccine etc.), the entire population should receive as soon as possible an additional booster vaccine dose.

    The prime target is for citizens to receive a booster dose of the mRNA vaccine four months (Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca) or six months (Pfizer and Moderna) after their last (second) dose.

    The Committee is requesting that the operational plan to achieve this is developed by 27 November and implemented as soon as possible, so that the capacity of the national vaccination campaign is rapidly and significantly increased and that as many people as possible are able to be vaccinated before Christmas.

    Subject to the receipt of affirmative expert opinion a voluntary vaccination campaign to cover children aged 5 to 11 may also be launched.

    2. Winter measures

    Private meetings - Private meetings inside are prohibited, with the exception of weddings and funerals (the reception after the ceremony). These can be organized using the CST for up to 50 people indoors and 100 people outdoors. The terms and conditions applicable to the Horeca sector will apply, although dancing with a mask is permitted.

    The above provision does not apply to meetings held in private homes. However, the Committee strongly encourages the use of self-tests when receiving guests at your home.

    The use of the CST does not apply to private meetings organized at private homes, except when such events are catered with professional staff. If professional Horeca services are used, this service is also limited between 5 am and 11 pm, with the exception of weddings.

    Horeca activities - The maximum number of people per table is limited to 6. However, a household can share a table, regardless of the size of that household. Only seats at the table are authorized and the hours of operation are limited and run from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.

    Discos and dance halls must close.

    Public events - Indoor public events: only seats are allowed, in accordance with the CST rule accompanied by the wearing of a mask. Outdoor public events: If the organizers do not respect social distancing rules and maintain a distance of 1.5 meters between each group, their event will be closed. The terms applicable in the hotel and catering sector are also valid for events.

    The effective date of application of the measures concerning events organized by professionals is 29 November.

    Trade fairs - The Committee confirms the obligation to wear a mask at trade shows. The federated entities will take the necessary regulatory provisions for a generalized use of the CST during these trade fairs.

    Sports competition - Sports competitions organized indoors, both amateur and professional, can only take place without an audience. Participants up to the age of 18 may however be accompanied by their parents.

    Schools education - The education ministers will put in place a set of measures covering: the obligation to wear a mask; air quality and improved ventilation; separation of class groups; tracing of high-risk contacts (tracing and screening); and extracurricular activities.

    Youth activities - The Youth Ministers are invited to formulate, by 29 November at the latest, additional proposals on the restrictions and security measures to be observed during youth activities in indoor spaces, taking into account the epidemiological risks associated with the mixture of young people from different classes and schools.

    Telework - The period during which workers can go to their place of work a maximum of once a week has been extended to 19 December from 12 December. The period from which workers will be able to return to their place of work at most twice a week begins on 20 December.

    3. Compliance with measures

    The police are responsible for intervening strictly if they find non-compliance with these measures. The competent ministers and mayors will be asked to transmit the necessary information in this area to their local police services.

    4. Three instructions to help you stay safe

    • Limit your contacts. Adapt your behaviour and exercise great caution, especially around vulnerable people. If you still want to see friends, it is best to do so outside.
    • Use self-tests. If you still invite people to your home, take a self-test and wear a mask. To put the odds on your side. Self-tests are available in pharmacies and supermarkets.
    • Ventilate. Make sure that the interior spaces are sufficiently ventilated. A habit to take which is healthy anyway, but even more so during these times of coronavirus circulation.
  • 18 Nov 2021 9:00 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    The Consultative Committee on 17 November discussed the COVID-19 situation in Belgium and agreed a series of new protective measures. The obligation to wear a mask has been extended and teleworking made obligatory. The new rules follow the doubling of the number of infections, hospitalizations and intensive care patients in the past two weeks.

    To avoid congestion in the health care system and to allow education and the economy to function as normally as possible, the Concertation Committee has taken several protective measures outlined below. The measures will enter into force on 20 November 2021 and will be applicable until 28 January 2022. The Consultation Committee will meet in early January to reassess the situation.

    1. Safety distance and limitation of social contact

    It is absolutely essential that citizens obey the ground rules, which help prevent the spread of the coronavirus. These include respecting the safety distance of 1.5 meters and limiting the number of social contacts made.

    The Concertation Committee strongly recommends limiting social contacts as much as possible and preferably organizing these contacts outside.

    2. Wearing of the compulsory extended mask

    The Consultative Committee has decided to generalize the wearing of a mask, which will now be compulsory in the following situations across the country:

    • in closed spaces of public transport and organized collective transport;
    • for the medical and non-medical professions;
    • in health care establishments;
    • in establishments and places where catering activities are organized;
    • in the context of events, both indoors and outdoors and regardless of the size of the event;
    • in stores and shopping centres;
    • in spaces accessible to the public of companies and public administrations;
    • in public buildings and courts;
    • in libraries, game libraries and media libraries;
    • in spaces accessible to the public of establishments belonging to the cultural, festive, sporting, recreational and events sectors;
    • in fitness centres;
    • in places of worship.

    Wearing a mask is compulsory from 10 years old. In education, communities will decide whether or not to introduce compulsory mask wearing for children under 12.

    The mask can only be removed occasionally for sitting, eating and drinking, and when wearing a mask is not possible due to the nature of the activity, such as during sporting activities.

    3. Covid Safe Ticket +

    The Covid Safe Ticket is proof of full vaccination, obtaining a negative PCR test, or certification of recovery. For example, it gives access to events and catering establishments.

    The Concertation Committee decided that in places or during events where the Covid Safe Ticket is applicable, the wearing of a mask is also compulsory. The Covid Safe Ticket and the wearing of a mask are therefore both required.

    The Covid Safe Ticket and the wearing of a mask are compulsory in the following situations:

    • for public events and private meetings with more than 50 people indoors or more than 100 people outdoors;
    • in catering establishments (including private events that take place there);
    • in theaters, concert halls, music halls, cabarets and other performance halls, multipurpose halls that host cultural activities, indoor circuses, cinemas, museums and amusement parks and other theme parks (interiors).

    Nightclubs and dance halls that do not want to impose the wearing of masks are obliged to ask their customers to present the Covid Safe Ticket and to carry out a self-test on site, i.e., both Covid Safe Ticket and self-test.

    4. Compulsory teleworking

    Teleworking will be compulsory in the private sector and in all public administrations, unless the nature of the function or the continuity of activities does not allow it. One day's presence at work per staff member is authorized per week. As of December 13, the number of return-to-work days will be increased to a maximum of two per staff member per week.

    This measure should help reduce the number of contacts, especially on public transport.

    An electronic monthly register should be kept by organisations and made available through the social security portal.

    5. Generalization of the booster vaccine

    All fully vaccinated citizens will soon have the opportunity to receive an additional booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine.

    Several target groups - including people over 65, people immunocompromised or vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine - have already had the opportunity to receive this additional dose. Now it is the turn of the rest of the population.

    The vaccination campaign for children aged 5 to 11 will be launched as soon as possible, upon receipt of a favourable opinion from the Higher Health Council and the Bioethics Advisory Committee, and after approval by the European Medicines Agency. This vaccination will be available on a voluntary basis.

    6. Ventilation

    In order to properly monitor the air quality in schools and businesses, the Consultative Committee asks the regional ministers of Education and Labour to ensure that CO2 meters are installed quickly and generally in all school and business premises where large numbers of people congregate.

  • 10 Nov 2021 1:12 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    ICYMI Today, Wednesday 10 November, the Belgian Health ministries reached an agreement in principle for the administration of a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine to the whole population.

    All residents should therefore soon receive an invitation for a 3rd dose of the vaccine.

    The implementation of this decision will be settled at a forthcoming Interministerial Health Conference scheduled for 27 November. The ministers also decided to allow a second dose to be given to people who have been vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson/ Janssen single dose vaccine.

  • 9 Nov 2021 10:00 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Keep the date in your diary! On the evening of Friday, 10th December 2021 the BBCA will be holding its Annual Christmas Reception (subject to relevant COVID restrictions at the time) from 18h00-20h00. 

    The venue is still a secret but all will be revealed in your invitation that will be sent out in the very near future!

    The BBCA Events Team are making the final adjustments to arrangements and further details will follow very shortly including how to register for the event. We look forward to seeing you there!

  • 5 Nov 2021 8:53 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    ICYMI from this week a new self-assessment questionnaire on the Belgian health ministry website allows you to book a free coronavirus test without first needing a CTPC code from your GP. A free test will be available every 11 days for citizens.

    The questionnaire is available here.

    At-risk patients, such as over-65s and pregnant women, are still advised to see their doctor first.  The new tool was launched following complaints from GPs that they are being overwhelmed with processing the admin for coronavirus tests. You can also access the questionnaire via your account at masante.belgique.be.

  • 4 Nov 2021 8:35 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    Tis' soon the season to be jolly and Brussels International Singers will be holding their 2021 Christmas Carol Concert on the evening of Friday 17 December from 19h30. The venue is the Koninlijk Conservatorium Brussel at Regentschapsstraat 30a, 1000 Brussels.

    Tickets cost €15 prepaid / €18 on the door for adults and €10 prepaid / €12 on the door for under 15s. Further information and ticket reservations can be made via email – brusselsintsingers@gmail.com or phone – 0497 871363.

    You will need to show your Covid Safe Ticket and Identity Document to gain entry on the night. More details below.

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