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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 -----------

  • 18 May 2020 11:59 AM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Monday 18 May 2020.

    Today, Belgium begins phase 2 of deconfinement, among the changes: gradual resumption of classes, reopening of museums, markets, hairdressers, driving schools, and resumption of outdoor sports. All the changes explained here.


    Italy wants to open its borders again on June 3. The Italian government confirmed this on Saturday after the news was already reported in the media. From then on, residents of the European Union and countries of the Schengen zone would be welcome again without having to quarantine for two weeks.

    In a resolution adopted by a large majority, the European Parliament called for an economic recovery fund of EUR 2 billion to address the consequences of the corona crisis.

    In certain cases, grandparents can look after their grandchildren again, Flemish Minister of Welfare Wouter Beke announced. The grandparents in question cannot be older than 65 and they must not have any health concerns.

    In order to avoid overcrowding on public transport when schools reopen and the further resumption of economic life, Brussels Minister of Mobility Elke Van den Brandt presents an alternative to commuters: Park + Bike. A number of peripheral car parks become free and the commuters receive a free six-month subscription to pedal to their destination with a shared bicycle.

    About 45 % of Belgian young people have financial problems due to the corona crisis. 13 % have serious financial problems, according to a survey by banking federation Febelfin.

    The catering sector is losing EUR 47 million per day.

    The market vendors of the flea market on the Vossenplein/Place du Jeu de Balle in Brussels think that their market should resume from Monday like other large markets. To express their displeasure, they holding a protest march this morning.

    Similarly, the Belgian Massage Federation does not understand why the masseurs should not resume work today.

    The Flemish Swimming Federation, together with the French-speaking counterpart Fédération Francophone de Natation and the Royal Belgian Swimming Federation, is addressing the various Ministers of Sport jointly. They have prepared a roadmap to allow the opening of the pools and request that this be done as soon as possible.

    "#Restart": a RTBF plan worth EUR 13.4 million to support culture during the coronavirus era. Broadcaster RTBF offers a recovery plan and support for the culture, audiovisual and local economy sectors in the Wallonia-Brussels Federation.

    Belgians spent 30% less during confinement, the only exception being on food.

    Most of the 19 Brussels municipalities are ready to reopen schools on Monday, however Watermael-Boitsfort, Schaerbeek and Sint-Joost-ten-Node are postponing the reopening.

    All STIB bus, tram and metro lines are running normally today.

    The social distance of 1.5 meters remains the norm, but is no longer mandatory for public transport, the Flemish government has decided, reports De Lijn. A mouth mask remains mandatory for travellers from 12 years old.

    There will be no edition of the Belgian Pride Parade in Brussels in 2020. The parade had previously been postponed to August 29.

    Sciensano stats update of 18 May. 279 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 22 (8%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 55 559 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 657 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, only 43 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 27 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 17 May, a total of 16 708 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 14 657 people have left.

    28 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 6 (22%) were in Brussels. To date, a total 9 080 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 400 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Currently 342 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 15 May 2020 12:25 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Friday, 15 May 2020.

    The rate of reproduction of the virus has increased in Belgium. Virologist Steven Van Gucht reassures: it is too early to link this increase with the start of deconfinement. However, experts warn: the next three weeks will be crucial. “We feel that the politicians have used all the leeway they have. So we are worried." They recommend acting quickly in the event of a resumption of the epidemic, "so as not to make the same mistake as at the beginning, but that does not mean that we must directly opt for a total reconfiguration."


    Belgium is looking into the issue of a possible COVID-19 vaccine. And the Superior Council of Health (which is responsible for making recommendations to the Ministers of Health regarding a vaccination plan) is formal, there will not be a vaccine for everyone. The Superior Health Council tries to determine priority groups.

    An initial delivery of a million cloth mouth masks will arrive on Friday at the military complex in Peutie, said Minister of Defense and Foreign Affairs Philippe Goffin.

    Healthcare providers are under heavy pressure during the corona crisis. 4 in 10 report sleep deprivation, a quarter complain of concentration disorders and anxiety. That is almost 5 times higher than usual.

    The number of temporary unemployed increased by half in April compared to March.

    The Brussels region supports the cultural sector with measures worth nearly EUR 8.5 million. Brussels is adopting specific measures to support the cultural sector, focusing on Brussels non-profit organisations and intermittent culture workers who have so far been unable to claim assistance.

    The catering sector hopes to be able to receive customers again on 8 June with the start of phase 3, and is already working on a plan to make this reopening as smooth as possible.

    This year, KBC bank expects to have to write down about EUR 1.1 billion in losses due to the corona crisis because customers do not repay their loans correctly.

    Research Hogeschool Odisee: more than 8 out of 10 people want to continue working from home after corona. 

    Antwerp Zoo, Planckendael and Pairi Daiza will open their doors again on Monday 18 May. The first two weeks Zoo Antwerp and Planckendael will do this exclusively for members, the general public can visit from 1 June.

    The consumer or the patient can refuse the payment of “Covid supplements”. The consumer organisation Test Achats said that consumers and patients can refuse to pay the "Covid supplement" included in their bill if the service provider has not informed them of the price increase beforehand. Sometimes reaching up to EUR 50, this supplement is now mainly imposed by certain garage owners and dentists. Other professionals may also consider using it.

    Le Pain Quotidien has filed for judicial reorganisation.

    The Summer Sales will now take place in August instead of July.

    Flemish schools open their doors today for a day of trial runs after 10 weeks. Only a couple of years can attend, the other vast majority of students still have to remain at home.

    STIB/MIVB - an agreement was reached between management and unions on Thursday. The agreement is conditional on a return to work. However, services are still experiencing disruption this Friday morning. Seventeen bus lines are not running but the metro runs normally.

    The Zinneke parade will be virtual this Saturday.

    Sciensano update of 15 May. 365 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 28 (8%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 54 644 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 563 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, only 67 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 190 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 14 May, a total of 16 540 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 14 301 people have left.

    56 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 11 (20%) were in Brussels. To date, a total 8 959 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 385 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Currently 380 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 14 May 2020 12:57 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Thursday, 14 May 2020.

    Yesterday, the Belgian government announced a further relaxation of measures to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.


    As of Monday, 18 May, the following measures will apply:

    • Telework, where possible, remains the norm during this phase.
    • Secondary and primary schools will open again to a limited extent, however nurseries remain closed at this stage and higher education has already started organising the end of the academic year with the region’s authorities.
    • Museums and historical buildings can also open, provided that tickets are sold online or by telephone and that social distancing rules are observed.
    • Libraries remain open under the same conditions as today.
    • Zoos and animal parks as well as attractions and playgrounds may reopen with an approved circulation plan, however their restaurants must remain closed and only a limited number of visitors may be admitted.
    • Most contact professions, such as hairdressers and beauticians, can be restart, but ‘by appointment’ only and customers and staff must wear masks and keep a safe distance.
    • For markets, there is also the green light (provided consent of the local authorities is obtained) for a maximum of 50 stalls with an approved circulation plan and mandatory face masks for market vendors and staff with mask also highly recommended for customers.
    • In the open air, regular sports training and lessons can be resumed under the guidance of a coach, social distancing must be respected and a maximum of 20 people may participate at one time.
    • Planning a wedding or funeral? From now on it will be possible to receive a maximum of 30 people at ceremonies, under certain conditions, including social distancing, but it is not allowed to organise a reception after the ceremony.

    The next step (phase 3) of relaxation will not start before 8 June. Then a detailed plan for culture and sports will probably be laid out. More clarity is also expected regarding tourism and for restaurants and cafés, social contacts, religious services, youth camps, events of various sizes, etc. What is already known is that all cultural, sporting, tourist and recreational events are prohibited until 30 June and that there may be no return to normality this summer.

    Full government statement (in French) here.

    Sciensano stats update of 14 May. 307 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 31 (10%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 54 288 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 535 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, only 81 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 173 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 13 May, a total of 16 473 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 14 111 people have left.

    60 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 9 (15%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 8 903 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 374 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Currently 407 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 13 May 2020 1:18 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Wednesday, 13 May 2020.

    The National Security Council (NSC) will meet again this afternoon, discussions will include:

    • Whether most contact professions, such as hairdressers and beauticians, can reopen.
    • Whether museums and zoos may also open again next week with appropriate measures (limited number of tickets per day etc).
    • Whether open-air markets can recommence and when.


    For sports, resumption of activities will be phased. Last week the Jupiler Pro League decided not to restart before 31 July. For the amateurs, from 18 May, 12-year-olds will be allowed back on the field, and amateur teams of up to twenty players may also resume training with distance measures, but may not yet play matches.

    From the beginning of June, indoor sports fans may resume training in pairs. From June 15 teams can also return to training again, subject to social distancing.

    From August onwards, indoor and outdoor competitions will be allowed again, albeit with a maximum permitted audience of 2 000 people. Mass sports events may take place again by 1 September – virus permitting.

    Sciensano update of 13 May. 202 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 19 (9%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 53 981 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 504 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, only 70 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 205 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 12 May, a total of 16 392 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 13 937 people have left.

    82 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 12 (15%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 8 843 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 365 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Currently 420 COVID-19 patients are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    The WHO is cautiously positive about some corona treatments. While concrete scientific evidence is still lacking about which drug could cure COVID-19, WHO experts see certain treatments can shrink the severity of symptoms. (De Standaard)

    The European Commission is preparing to present recommendations today to save the 2020 summer season for the European the tourism sector by encouraging European states to gradually and concertedly reopen their internal borders.

    During the corona crisis, air quality in Europe has improved significantly according to calculations by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) that are confirmed by satellite observations.

    The European Commission has given the green light to increase the maximum amount of the “corona loan” for companies to EUR 2 million. The loans are intended for start-ups, scale-ups, SMEs and the self-employed who are struggling with the consequences of the corona virus.

    The Task Force, which is looking into medical supplies in the fight against the coronavirus, has ordered 2 million additional FFP2 masks in recent days, with 80,000 delivered.

    Already 359 cured COVID-19 patients have volunteered to give plasma to the Red Cross.

    Several doctors' organisations complain today that no triage centre has yet received the promised start-up funding. More than half of the Flemish triage centres have not yet received any payments.

    In the Brussels municipalities of Etterbeek, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre and Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, residents and visitors are required to wear masks in busy centres.

    TUI cuts 8000 jobs, 10% of their jobs worldwide.

    The technology sector is gradually restarting. Where the average activity rate was 52.8% at the beginning of April, it has now risen to 75%.

    Belgian companies are afraid that a second lockdown will ruin them completely, according to a survey conducted by employer organisation Voka among its members. The Federation of Belgian Enterprises (FEB) is trying to stop a new, general lockdown. Because that would be "a bloodbath".

    Some 340 bus and coach companies responsible for collective passenger transport are today holding an "e-protest march on Brussels". In doing so, they ask the federal and regional governments for guarantees of their survival and clarity about the restart of their activities.

    About 180,000 Belgians are in danger of losing their job, according to the latest survey by the Economic Risk Management Group (ERMG).

    As a result of the corona crisis, activities in the construction sector are likely to decline by 10% in 2020.

    A combination of strong wind and low demand due to the corona virus has caused negative electricity prices in Belgium.

    98% of primary schools are preparing to restart on 15 May.

    Coastal mayors will follow the guidelines of the NSC to keep second-residence owners out of their municipalities until June.

    In Brussels, bus traffic is disrupted for the third day in a row. The metro is running normally, with trams also running, but at a reduced frequency.

    Flanders public transport company De Lijn is threatened with strikes if not all buses are equipped with protection screens.

    Brussels Airlines will reduce its fleet by 30% with thousands of jobs threatened. Belgium is prepared to pump up to EUR 390 million into Brussels Airlines if sufficient investments follow.

    Barely 17 000 passengers flew last month via Zaventem, while the number of cargo flights increased by half.

    Travelers to Spain will have to be quarantined from Friday for 14 days. Those placed in isolation may only come out to buy basic supplies or for medical care. Travel agencies and transport companies must inform their customers in advance about the rules. The measure will last until the end of the state of emergency in Spain, currently scheduled for 24 May.

    In contrast, Ryanair wants to offer 1 000 flights a day from 1 July with flights resuming from Brussels and Charleroi. However, the company has announced that there will be job losses in Belgium.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 12 May 2020 2:03 PM | Tim Reynolds (Administrator)

    COVID-19 selected news snippets for Tuesday, 12 May 2020.

    Brussel city's assembly member for culture, Delphine Houba, has given the Manneken-Pis a tailor-made face mask (see below). The statue had already worn an unofficial mask, donated by the public, for several weeks.


    The Woluwe-Saint-Pierre and Woluwe-Saint-Lambert communes have followed Etterbeek in requiring facemasks in shopping areas. The measures are due to come into effect from today.

    Road traffic in Belgium is picking up, according to data from satnav firm Coyote. Traffic was down more than 90% at some points in late March and early April. On 20 March, the roads were still 77% quieter, but last Monday they were 61% down on usual and by Sunday the figure was 52%.

    Contact tracing started yesterday, but some fraudulent activity has already been noted by the police. FYI official contact tracers will call only from 02 214 19 19 and contact texts are from 8811.

    Data update of 12 May. 330 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 have been reported in Belgium over the past 24 hours of which 25 (8%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 53 779 confirmed cases have been reported in Belgium with 5 485 (10%) cases located in Brussels.

    In the past 24 hours, only 43 patients with COVID-19 have been hospitalised and 35 people left hospital. Between 15 March and 11 May, a total of 16 322 patients with COVID-19 have entered hospital and 13 732 people have left.

    65 new deaths from COVID-19 in Belgium have been reported in the past 24 hours of which 5 (8%) were in Brussels. To date, a total of 8 761 deaths from the disease have been reported in Belgium of which 1 353 (15%) were in Brussels.

    Currently 465 people are in intensive care units in Belgian hospitals.

    Read the daily report (in French) here.

    Useful Links

    Federal Government COVID-19 information

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

  • 11 May 2020 1:03 PM | Tim Reynolds (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 | Tim Reynolds (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 | Tim Reynolds (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 | Tim Reynolds (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 | Tim Reynolds (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.

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