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Brussels British Community Association

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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 -----------

  • 11 May 2020 1:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Monday, 11 May 2020.

    All shops are open from today but social distancing rules must be respected.

    Contact tracing starts today, people tested positive will receive a call, however Federal police have noted that fraudulent SMS messages are circulating on the tracing of the coronavirus. “The contact tracing has started today,” said Yves Stevens, a spokesperson for the Belgian National Crisis Centre. “Unfortunately, we have established that phone calls have been made and messages have been sent by fraudsters,” he added.

    “We advise everyone to programme the numbers 02 214 19 19 and 8811 into their phones. If a contact tracer calls you, it will only be with the first number, and a text message will only be sent by the last number,” Stevens said. “If you receive a message that does not come from one of those numbers, ignore it, and do click on possible links in the messages,” he added.


    Sciensano update of 11 May. 368 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 36 (10%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 53 449 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 460 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, only 60 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 55 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 10 May, a total of 16 279 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 13 697 people have left.

    62 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 12 (19%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 8 707 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 348 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Currently less than 500 people are at intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    Read the full daily report (in Dutch) here.

    Belgium has been hit relatively hard by the new corona virus. According to health economist Lieven Annemans, this has to do with the high population density, its central location and the degree of air pollution in Belgium.

    “We don't yet know how many antibodies are needed to be immune,” said epidemiologist Van Damme said during a TV debate. “Reuniting with the family would be more dangerous than going to the store,” says virologist Steven Van Gucht. He insisted on the importance of social distancing.

    The expert group preparing for the exit strategy (GEES) is from now on assisted by an expert working on group mental health to give specific advice on the psychosocial impact of the exit strategy. They will give their latest advice on Wednesday to the National Security Council.

    The external borders of the EU should remain mostly closed until 15 June. "The situation remains fragile both in Europe and in the world", the European Commission said.

    Minister of Work Nathalie Muylle will propose to extend the system of temporary unemployment due to the corona crisis until 1 September.

    More than 1.7 million surgical masks have been distributed in recent days in Belgium, in hospitals, ambulance services, home nurses, midwives, dentists, psychiatric centres or even funeral directors. A total of 27.5 million surgical masks have already been distributed.

    Temporary unemployment measures have been expanded to the artistic and event sector.

    The COVID-19 crisis could put almost 50,000 additional Brussels residents out of work.

    Reopening stores helps 100,000 people get back to work in Belgium, says Voka, the Flemish network of companies. This number is added to the 150,000 employees who were able to return to work on 4 May.

    The federal government has extended the validity of the electronic meal vouchers, eco vouchers, sports and cultural vouchers and gift vouchers by six months.

    The city of Brussels has installed fences in the Rue Neuve shopping street, in order to create two walking directions, Mayor Philippe Close explained. Social distancing markings have been placed on the floor should queues arise outside the shops.

    Telecom data collected by the Taskforce Data Against Corona in recent months shows that Belgians have properly followed up the imposed quarantine. Yet we have moved more often in recent days. The data influenced the decisions of the National Security Council.

    A spontaneous strike - especially among bus drivers – is taking place on the STIB/MIVB network today. Some drivers believe that the health security conditions are not being met.

    36 000 police reports have already been issued for violations of the corona rules.

    The OCMW/CPAS will receive support of EUR 15 million from the federal government. The CPAS has asked for a premium of EUR 200 euros for all social beneficiaries.

    In the centre of Brussels speed limit will be 20km / hr for a three-month test phase. The measure should facilitate respect for social distancing, in particular in densely populated areas, where the sidewalks are very narrow. 

    Young people and men are more likely not to respect the confinement rules. According to a study by Sciensano, 16% of 18-24-year-old people do not comply with confinement measures.

    Waste collection is back to normal from Monday in Brussels.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 10 May 2020 4:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    The Brussels British Community Association had planned to hold our Annual General Meeting on Wednesday 13 May, but in light of the Government guidelines on association of people it will come as no surprise that we have decided reluctantly to postpone the meeting until later in the year when we expect the conditions will be more convivial to forming a gathering. The Committee will meet to decide a new date for the AGM in the coming weeks and will inform you of the revised date in due course. The new date will most likely be in September.

    In addition, it is with much sadness that we announce that the planned Summer Garden Party on 21 June will not be going ahead, again following government guidelines on social distancing etc. However we are continuing to explore opportunities to bring together our community, even in small numbers, as soon as conditions allow.

    In the meantime, the BBCA committee wishes you well with good health. Stay safe!


  • 8 May 2020 11:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Friday, 8 May 2020.

    Welcome to this VE-Day issue of our COVID-19 update with the important news that dog grooming salons will reopen from 11 May. Humans still have to be patient.


    Sciensano update of 8 May. 591 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 57 (10%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 52 011 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 344 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, 108 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 221 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 7 May, a total of 16 061 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 13 201 people have left.

    107 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 32 (30%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 8 521 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 339 (16%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    The Belgian economy is expected to shrink by 7.2% in a "Recession of historical proportions." The forecast is from the European Commission analysis of the economic shock of COVID-19 that is predicted to be much tougher than the 2008 financial crisis. 6 out of 10 Belgians believe that the COVID-19 epidemic could affect their financial situation, according to a study co-organised by AQRate, Mission-Systole, Spike and Origami PR.

    Flemish Minister for Mobility Lydia Peeters wants to use stickers on traffic light controlled street crossings to encourage road users to use their elbow or an object to work push buttons instead of bare hands.

    The government of the Wallonia-Brussels Federation approved support measures of EUR 7.8 million to four university hospitals in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation including Saint-Luc University Clinics and the Erasmus Hospital.

    The number of Belgians with antibodies against the new coronavirus increased from 3 to 6% between the end of March and mid-April, says epidemiologist Pierre Van Damme of the University of Antwerp. At this level he says: “Group immunity will not happen." In possibly related news Philippe Soubry, the first Belgian who became infected in Wuhan and who tested positive after repatriation in Belgium, is not immune to the new corona virus meaning he could get infected again.

    The Ministry of Defence states: 'masks for the population [will be] delivered on 24 May at the latest'

    Many commuters have been surprised by the high price of masks sold at rail stations. SNCB explains that private dealers sell them and set the prices. "Depending on the trader and the type of product (disposable, reusable), the masks will be sold between 1 and 15 euros," explains a spokesperson.

    COVID-19 screening centres are overwhelmed: “The government is disconnected from the realities on the ground.” In the emergency unit of the Saint-Jean clinic, or rather in the garages of the hospital, the screening of patients is complicated, particularly because no protective equipment has yet been received from the authorities.

    ING's profit plummeted more than 40% in the first quarter due to the corona crisis. In contrast, since mid-March, Belgian supermarkets have seen additional sales estimated at EUR 506 million: equivalent to a 10% increase year-on-year.

    In Higher Education, more than one in five students have dropped out of studies.

    The Waterbus between Brussels and Vilvoorde resumes from Monday morning: the wearing of face masks will be mandatory.

    Police checks on non-essential movements are to stop.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 7 May 2020 12:57 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Thursday, 7 May 2020.

    Sciensano update of 7 May. 639 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 101 (16%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 51 420 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 287 (10%) cases located in Brussels.


    In the past 24 hours, 98 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 244 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 6 May, a total of 15 953 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 12 980 people have left.

    80 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 9 (11%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 8 415 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 307 (16%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    Following the meeting of Belgium's National Security Council (NSC) yesterday (6 May) small private gatherings with friends and family, at home, from Sunday 10 May has been allowed. The reopening of shops from 11 May has also been confirmed. A decision on allowing visits to second homes and daytrips elsewhere in Belgium has been delayed. This was initially part of the "phase 2" easing of coronavirus measures, provisionally set for 18 May. It has now been postponed until "phase 3", meaning it will not be allowed until 8 June at the earliest. The NSC will also discuss the possible reopening of restaurants at that time.

    Our article with the full NSC statement is here.

    ING and BNP Paribas Fortis have warned of a growing number of scam text messages. Recipients are told that their bank account "has been placed in quarantine" and to click on a link to reactivate it. Don't.

    The relaxed rules on social contact do not mean that grandparents should be looking after their grandchildren all day long. Erika Vlieghe, chair of the expert group on Belgium's "deconfinement" strategy, says: "A short visit, respecting the safe distances, is not the same thing as babysitting your grandchildren all day.”

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 6 May 2020 11:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Phase 1B deconfinement will start from 11 May with widening of social contacts and opening of some businesses under certain conditions.

    This Wednesday, 6 May, the National Security Council (NSC) met to validate, complete and specify the new phase of the deconfinement strategy, namely phase 1b which will begin on 11 May. Experts have given the green light to launch this new phase in light of several favourable criteria including the number of hospitalizations per day, the average downward trend of hospitalizations, the number of beds occupied in intensive care units, and the growth of testing and tracing. These criteria will continue to play a role in the gradual easing of confinement in Belgium.


    10/ 11 May

    In order to respond to the distress and the difficulties caused by social distancing, the NSC first decided to allow a further widening of social contacts from this Sunday (10 May).

    Currently, it is possible to see two people, always the same people, outside, for a walk or to play sports together. This possibility remains, but from 10 May each household will also be able to accommodate in their home up to a maximum of four people; always the same persons. To limit the number of contacts that could spread the virus, the invited people must agree to enter only one household. The objective is to limit as far as possible the risk of contact, while attempting to guarantee the greatest possible reciprocity.

    The following conditions will apply:

    • Social distancing must, of course, be respected with the guests.
    • If the household has a garden or a terrace, it is preferable to organize the visit outdoors.
    • Obviously no visit can be authorized if a family member or the guest is sick.
    • Particular attention should be paid to the elderly or the frail.

    This system also makes it easier to trace the contacts that have taken place between people if one of them later tests positive for COVID-19.

    The NSC will continue to assess the possibilities of expanding these contacts as the different phases progress.

    On 11 May, other businesses will be able to reopen. This reopening must, as for everything else, be done in strict compliance with the following rules:

    • As is the case in shops that are already open only 1 customer will be authorized per 10m² for a maximum of 30 minutes. For smaller businesses an exception will be provided.
    • It is strongly recommended that each customer wears protection covering the nose and mouth in shops. In any case, social distancing must be respected.
    • Employers will be responsible for the health and safety of their employees, and will have to do everything to ensure safe working conditions.

    To avoid crowds, everyone will have to do their shopping alone. An exception will be made for children under the age of 18, who may be accompanied by a parent, and people in need of help. It is also recommended to go to shops located in a city or town near your home or place of work. Excursions and tourist activities are still prohibited. Gatherings also remain prohibited. Local authorities will ensure the application of social distancing rules in public spaces and will take the necessary measures to enforce them. Priority should be given to people over 65, people with reduced mobility and caregivers.

    The use of public transport should only be made if you have no alternative. The goal is to give access to the people who need it most.

    The contact trades, apart from medical and paramedical care, will unfortunately remain closed for the time being.

    The markets cannot resume at this stage either. Only single street vendors (food and non-food) may be authorized, by local authorities, and at their usual locations. As everywhere else, social distancing must be respected.

    Unfortunately, cafes, bars, restaurants and festive, recreational, cultural and tourist venues will remain closed at this stage as well.

    The next stage – 18 May

    The next stage is currently scheduled for 18 May. The Communities and the world of education are already working together to ensure a gradual resumption of lessons in primary and secondary schools.

    Until then, we will determine with the expert group the feasibility and conditions for:

    • The recovery of the markets
    • The reopening of museums, libraries, zoos, etc
    • The reopening of professions with physical contact such as hairdressers
    • The increase in the number of people able to attend wedding ceremonies and funerals
    • The resumption of outdoor sports training. The resumption of sporting and cultural events will also be analysed by the experts on the basis of work tabled by competent ministers to present a more precise calendar through the different phases
    • The question of day trips, visits to second homes etc will be raised during the preparation of phase 3 (estimated date: 8 June).

    The full statement from the NSC (in French) can be found here.

  • 6 May 2020 2:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Wednesday, 6 May 2020.


    Sciensano update of 6 May. 272 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 10 (4%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 50 781 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 186 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    Based on the number of cases per 1000 inhabitants, the commune of Bouillon comes out on top of worst hit places in Belgium, with 17 in every thousand people infected.

    In the past 24 hours, just 116 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 290 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 5 May, a total of 15 855 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 12 731 people have left.

    339 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 52 (15%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 8 339 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 300 (16%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    The National Security Council is meeting from 9 am today to discuss phase 1b of the exit strategy, the opening of all stores, currently scheduled for Monday 11 May and future options. A decision on Youth camps organised this summer will only be discussed in "the third week of May" and a limit of 50 young people is being considered. No decision on vacations abroad this summer is expected before the end of May.

    Wider testing for infection with the coronavirus is one of the pillars of the exit strategy. "The role of the GP is crucial in this story," says virologist Steven Van Gucht. Since Monday you can go to a general practitioner for a COVID-19 test, however not all GPs have been able to obtain testing kits. GPs will also soon be able to issue a "quarantine certificate". This specific medical certificate would be issued after a positive tested or previous close contact with infected other persons.

    A study by a team from the University of Ghent and the University of Austin in Texas has shown that llamas produce antibodies capable of neutralising the coronavirus.

    According to a survey by HR company Acerta, 45% of companies would continue to allow home work.

    Store chain Veritas had the highest turnover ever on Monday - on the first day that the shops could reopen, 'after a rush on the shops'

    Mayors of coastal towns have worked out a plan for the summer. They hope to be able to receive day tourists from 8 June.

    The City of Brussels plans to pass an order requiring all restaurants serving takeaways to close by 22h30.

    Throughout the Brussels region, street parking rules will be enforced again from 18 May.

    Five percent of travellers did not wear a mask on STIB vehicles on Monday

    Almost 90% fewer flights were recorded at Brussels Airport in April. No improvement is anticipated for May.

    Until 8 June, Thalys will keep its minimum offer, with one round trip between Brussels and Paris and one round trip between Brussels and Amsterdam per day. From 9 June, more Thalys high-speed trains will run again: about 20% of normal capacity.

    Anyone who does not respect the quarantaine measures risks mandatory hospitalisation, if necessary, with police surveillance. (VRT)

    Under a series of strict conditions, the Botanic Garden of Meise will open its doors again on Friday 8 May.

    The International Cycling Union announced the Tour of Flanders is scheduled to take place on 18 October.

    The “Métro” newspaper will, once again, be available in train and metro stations from 2 June with editions on Tuesdays and Fridays.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

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

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Tuesday, 5 May 2020.


    Sciensano update of 5 May. 242 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 12 (5%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 50 509 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 176 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, just 84 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 63 people left hospital. This is the third day in a row where less than 100 people have been hospitalised. Between 15 March and 4 May, a total of 15 739 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 12 441 people have left.

    97 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 21 (22%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 8 016 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 247 (16%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    Belgium's national security council will meet on Wednesday to discuss the next step in the easing of the country's coronavirus measures - the potential reopening of shops. The experts will discuss a date (provisionally 11 May) and measures aimed at limiting a rush on the shops as soon as they reopen. Also on the agenda will be what should be done about sporting fixtures, including a possible end to the football season.

    New bike lanes in Brussels appeared overnight. On Rue de la Loi one of the four (previously) car lanes is now a bike lane.

    Belgium's florists have been told they cannot reopen early to sell flowers for Mother's Day (this Sunday). The Royal Union of Florists had asked for permission to open from Friday to Sunday, solely as a collection point for customers, who would order and pay online.

    Kids' chain Maxi Toys has applied for bankruptcy protection from its creditors because of the coronavirus shutdown. The group has 200 stores in Belgium, France, Switzerland and Luxembourg.

    The coronavirus crisis has put an end to five and a half years of falling unemployment in the Brussels region. At the end of April, Brussels had 87,271 jobseekers - an unemployment rate of 15.5%. The number of job vacancies listed at Actiris has almost halved in April to 1,677.

    The virus's reproduction rate in Belgium is now estimated at 0.6 - down from 0.79 last week. This means the virus is in decline.

    There has been a "clear relaxation" in people's attitudes to the stay-at-home order since the Easter holidays, according to university research based on mobile phone location data. The study found a 30% increase in trips outside of the municipality of residence during the Easter weekend.

    Health insurer Solidaris says it is "unacceptable" that some healthcare providers are adding a "coronavirus surcharge" to their fees - and has called for these to be urgently regulated.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 5 May 2020 4:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Great news for all dedicated Quizzers: UNICEF Belgium has announced its second ‘Lockdown’ Anagram Quiz to keep you amused.


    This month's quiz consists of 20 questions that result in anagrams of surnames of well-known authors. For each of the questions the number of letters corresponding to each clue are given (in parentheses) and a number in bold represents the total number of letters in the author’s name.

    A tie-break question is also set with participants asked to estimate the number of cases of COVID-19 in Belgium up to and including Friday 22 May. The source of this number will be the ‘Global Situation Update as of Saturday 23 May’ published on the ECDC website around noon on that day.

    The UNICEF Question and Answer sheet can be accessed and downloaded here:

    UNICEF Authors Anagram Quiz (V 2.0)_.docx

    The document above is a revised version with a few more hints!

    Quiz schedule

    Answers must be received no later than midnight CEST on Sunday 17 May and the winners will be announced on Saturday 23 May, once the tie-break answer is known.

    The winner and ‘Author 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 cases.

    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 score, but whose tie-break answer is closest to the actual number of cases.

    If you are interested in participating in this month’s quiz, you should email your answers to unicefquiz@gmail.com to arrive before the above deadline.

    How to donate to UNICEF?

    To enter you should donate the suggested entry fee of between EUR 5 and 10 (more if you like!) to the Ex-Pats for UNICEF bank account: BE83 3630 2680 8315 with your name and/ or nickname as given on your submitted answer sheet as the reference.

    All money raised by UNICEF in Belgium will go to support their WASH (WAter, Sanitation and Hygiene) project in Rwanda.

    Please feel free to distribute widely to friends, neighbours and colleagues! Good luck!

  • 4 May 2020 11:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Monday, 4 May 2020.

    Welcome back from the May Day weekend! As of today some #COVID-19 measures are being relaxed in Phase 1a of the Belgian ‘deconfinement’ schedule. But what exactly is changing?

    1. Businesses (only B2B) are reopening.
    2. More children can go to the nursery.
    3. As of today, everyone over 12 years of age must wear a face mask (or equivalent) on public transport.
    4. There are more options for sports and outdoor activities. For example, from now on it is allowed to meet two people for outdoor sports.
    5. Hospitals may readmit non-urgent consultations.
    6. But all other measures will continue to apply. The Bulletin has published a comprehensive guide to what is, and what is not, allowed.

    Sciensano update of 4 May. 361 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 32 (9%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 50 267 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 164 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, just 59 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 69 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 3 May, a total of 15 655 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 12 378 people have left.

    80 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 8 (10%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 7 924 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 227 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    On Wednesday 6 May the British Embassy is holding a virtual drop-in session on its facebook page. Do you have questions on your rights as UK national resident in Belgium, or wish to share your concerns or experiences of the current COVID-19 measures? If so join the drop-in session on Wednesday between 17h00 and 19h00. Ambassador Martin Shearman will open the session with a short video, and the Embassy Team will then answer as many of your questions as possible or signpost you to reliable sources of information. More details on the Embassy facebook page.

    Today the European Commission is organising a global coronavirus fundraiser in Brussels. President Ursula von der Leyen hopes to raise EUR 7.5 billion.

    An agreement has been reached on parental "corona" leave with retroactive effect. The parental "corona" leave allowance will be increased by 25% compared to the conventional parental leave, said Minister of Employment Nathalie Muylle.

    A new provision by Minister of Health, Maggie De Block will temporarily allow private nursing homes to call on volunteers to compensate the low staff attendance rate.

    Belgium and the Netherlands have concluded an agreement to prevent frontier workers from being adversely affected by the corona crisis, Finance Minister Alexander De Croo reports.

    All triage centres that will conduct testing from Monday 4 May have been supplied with testing equipment, says federal minister Philippe De Backer.

    The expert group in charge of the exit strategy (GEES) is working on a plan for a possible new lockdown, Professor Erika Vlieghe, in charge of the group of experts, said. But she hopes it won't come to that.

    Virologist Marc Van Ranst is "fairly relaxed" about the first phase of the exit strategy from today, but not about the second phase commencing on 11 May. Van Ranst fears that Belgians will flock to the newly opened shops and that this will lead to irresponsible situations.

    Surgical masks are available in supermarkets from Tuesday. VAT on hand gels and mouth masks will drop from 21 to 6%.

    30% of companies active in the arts and entertainment sector consider the risk of bankruptcy "probable" or "very probable".

    The Federation of Belgian Entrepreneurs thinks "only 80% of employees will be back at work at the end of May".

    Wallonia TEC public transport confirms wearing a mask at the bus stop and on the bus is mandatory, and only one passenger per seat will be allowed. STIB's network will run at 80% of their usual frequency while SNCB and De Lijn will resume their normal timetable from today.

    SNCB are also reminding travellers to maintain a social distance, to wear a mask and on stairs and escalators to keep their right and not to overtake.

    Wearing a mask or scarf will be mandatory at Zaventem airport from Monday 4 May, said federal government spokesperson Philippe Touwaide. This announcement supersedes previous information from airport spokespersons. Passengers on Eurostar & Thalys trains must also wear masks.

    France won’t make quarantine mandatory for travellers from most countries in Europe. If you travel to France from Belgium, the rest of the European Union, the United Kingdom or the Schengen countries, you may enter the country from 11 May if you do not show any symptoms of corona.

    The tracking and tracing strategy. A royal decree stipulates that the tracing data will be stored in a secure database of the Sciensano health institute. The tracing strategy adopted by the three regions is that of the call centre, which will enter into test phase today. There are doubts about its implementation on 11 May, the provisional date for reopening of retail businesses, as the screening capacities must greatly increase to at least 25 000 tests per day. Last week, testing capabilities managed to exceed 20 000 daily tests.

    Dogs are being trained to detect COVID-19, these are dogs already trained for the detection of other diseases.

    Etterbeek commune has required the wearing of masks on shopping streets and near schools such as on the rue des Tongres (Mérode) or the chaussée de Wavre (La Chasse).

    On Friday, 1 May, the “Maison Antoine” chip shop opened for the first time since the start of confinement and Foodmet, the covered market in Anderlecht, has also reopened.

    Molenbeek commune has implemented a temporary mobility plan with speed limits of 20km per hour across its region.

    The Brussels courts will partially resume their activities in May under a modified and progressive regime, courtrooms have been rearranged to allow a partial return.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 30 Apr 2020 12:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Thursday, 30 April 2020.

    Sciensano update of 30 April. 660 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 72 (11%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 48 519 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 4 979 (10%) cases located in Brussels.


    In the past 24 hours, 178 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 293 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 29 April, a total of 15 239 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 11 576 people have left.

    111 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 9 (8%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 7 594 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 158 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Read the full daily report (in French) here.

    The current evolution of the corona crisis makes it possible to relax the measures from 4 May and implement phase 1a of the deconfinement strategy, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has confirmed.

    The government has decided that the sale of surgical mouth masks to private individuals, for example in supermarkets, will be allowed again.

    A tracing application bill allowing to trace the people contaminated by the coronavirus will be submitted to parliament, said a member of Minister De Backer's cabinet.

    Asked about the special powers of the emergency government whose possible extension must be decided before the end of June, Georges-Louis Bouchez confirmed that the liberal party MR would not ask to extend them if the health situation allows.

    By Sunday, all staff and residents of Walloon residential care centres must have undergone a test. This should pave the way to allow visitors afterwards, under strict conditions and if circumstances permit, says Walloon Minister of Health Christie Morreale.

    Professor of intensive care at university hospital UZ Leuven Geert Meyfroidt is "tired but satisfied", now that the corona peak in his hospital is over but says "We are a bit afraid of May 4th."

    Contact tracing in Flanders, Brussels and Wallonia: test phase starts on 4 May, full start on 11 May 11. Tracing is the responsibility of the Regions, but common tools are / will be implemented. Contact tracers will have access to a digital platform common to the three entities.

    From Monday 4 May, visitors can again visit facilities for persons with a disability says the Flemish Agency for Persons with a Disability.

    'Six out of ten Belgians already have a mouth mask at home' according to De Standaard.

    From Monday 4 May, the city of Brussels has decided to distribute reusable mouth masks to all its inhabitants older than 12 years. Residents who would like to receive a mask must apply for it themselves.

    From May 4 anyone with symptoms of the viral infection can be tested.

    From the beginning of next week, general practitioners could start testing their patients on a large scale. But at the moment there is not enough testing and protective equipment for the doctors. They point at the lack of tracing information and the lack of coordination at all levels. Non-urgent consultations with doctors will therefore be on the back burner.

    It is important to keep the reproduction rate of the virus (the number of people that a virus carrier can infect) below 1, as an essential factor to manage the pandemic. Currently this is 0.79 in Belgium, according to a study between April 20 and 26.

    The National Bank releases its figures relating to the 1st quarter. Belgium's gross domestic product fell 3.9% in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the previous quarter. The corona measures only account for two weeks in that quarter.

    Flemish fishermen might be forced to stop their activity if this situation continues. The majority of them have barely reached break even since fish prices have fallen sharply since mid-March.

    "Repeating a year must be the exception" this school year says Minister Caroline Désir. She decided to cancel external certification tests as well as the end of year exams. Students will be evaluated on the basis of their class work during the year.

    Belgian coastal town mayors will submit a document by 8 May with concrete proposals to the National Security Council: people with second residence would be welcome quite soon, people who rent only in June. No day tourists would be allowed to visit as long as the cafés and restaurants are closed.

    SNCB will be selling cloth mouth masks and alcohol gel through vending machines to passengers in eighty stations across the country.

    Until 1 June, there will be no commercial flights by Brussels Airlines. Once operations resume, it will be with a "reduced but stable flight offer" that will expand with demand. In addition face masks will be compulsory on Brussels Airlines and other companies of the Lufthansa group (Lufthansa, Swiss, Austrian Airlines, Eurowings) from 4 May until the end of August to cover nose and mouth on board the aircraft.

    Belgium was one of the twelve European member states that asked the European Commission on Wednesday to withdraw the obligation for airlines to refund passengers whose flights were cancelled due to the corona crisis. Vouchers would replace refunds.

    Belgian football clubs are selling their own branded mouth masks. The proceeds of the masks do not only serve for the clubs’ finances, but partly go to charity.

    The Walloon Union for the Protection of Animals calls for support of animal shelters and parks during this crisis. Without that support, as many as 70% of associations can only last for another few months.

    French-speaking university UCLouvain shares survey results of 6 500 Belgians: we have not all started drinking during the lockdown.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

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