The Belgian shutdown has started

You can tell things are getting bad when Belgium gets a government. This is, of course, only a temporary government — negotiations are still ongoing for the new federal government — but prime minister, Sophie Wilmès now has powers for six months to take measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic without requiring parliamentary approval.

The first thing this government did was to declare a declare a nation-wide shutdown as of noon today. Until 5th April, we are all expected to stay at home except for essential reasons, such as food shopping, or outdoor physical activities which can only be done with people living in the same house.

They are trying to avoid calling this a lockdown for fear of negative connotations. But that’s what this is.

Compared to yesterday, we’re not that much affected. I’m already working from home and Eve is still able to take the boys out in the afternoon in order to prevent us all going stir crazy. Because I am not walking to work at present, I have taken to taking a walk around town before I start working and again when I have finished. This is still allowed as long as I don’t talk to anyone.

In slightly more positive news, a citizens’ initiative has been launched aiming to bring together isolated people with volunteers available to gather and deliver essential shopping. The idea from Covid Solidarity is to make shopping list templates for printing out available to people who find themselves isolated.

Once completed, the list may be placed in a visible position in front of one’s house so that a neighbour can pick it up and set about making the necessary purchases.

The shopping is then deposited without physical contact, and reimbursement for purchases made is handled directly by the person lending assistance and the person being assisted, according to the procedure detailed on the site.

And two Dutch universities are looking into whether a vaccine for tuberculosis can be used to boost immune systems which may mean fewer and less severe infections.

9 thoughts on “The Belgian shutdown has started

    1. Very much so.

      We’re quite lucky in that we have quite a nice walk not far from us, so as long as the kids can burn off some energy in the afternoons we should be okay. We seem to have slipped into a pattern of letting them have their tablets in the morning and then making them do something after lunch.

      And we have a fair old stack of DVDs to catch up on 😉

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      1. Cooking over face-time sounds… interesting O_o

        That said, my 12 year old cooked dinner for us all yesterday and it was really good. I’m more than happy to let him do that again 😉

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    1. We’re quite lucky in that we do have a pretty decent walk very local to us, although the usual hot chocolate at the end of the walk is obviously no longer available. And I will continue to take a walk immediately before I start working and, again, after I finish — otherwise I won’t move at all all day.

      I haven’t had a chance to look outside yet, but I can imagine the traffic will be largely gone. That said, the car park outside the local supermarket is packed — people are having to queue to get their panic buying done.

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  1. I’m still confused as to how law enforcement will be able to verify whether you are outside with someone who you live with. Since lockdown, in ambiguous term, has only been announced for us today, I’m cautious as to how effective it’ll be. Some form of proof of address to confirm it? Just recently, there was a picture circulating on twitter of Victoria park being populated by shoppers which was infuriating, I live in the area, and now I’m even more reluctant to even step out of the house.

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    1. In Belgium, we have had a lot of information from the federal government explaining exactly what is and is not allowed and I think they are largely relying on people to show a bit of sense about this. That said, the police were blocking access to coastal towns last weekend and turning back anyone who didn’t have a good reason to be there.

      As for enforcement, I think a lot of it will fall on obvious violations. A couple or an adult with several children can be ignored, whereas half a dozen teenagers probably shouldn’t be hanging out together.

      At the end of the day, I think most people are capable of being reasonably sensible about this. There will always be idiots around but they are (hopefully) in the minority.

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