‘Corona crisis intensifies exploitation of foreign truckers’

Born / Buchten / Holtum / Papenhoven / Geleen / Graetheide / Sittard / Windraak / Limbricht / Einighausen / Guttecoven / Munstergeleen / Obbicht / Grevenbicht –

As a result of the corona pandemic, the exploitation of truck drivers from the former Eastern Bloc countries and the Philippines has drastically worsened.

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Air for owner Steps and Miss Etam

Finally a little bit of good news for the Belgian fashion group FNG. On Friday, three groups of bondholders of the company, owner of fashion chains Miss Etam, Claudia Sträter and Steps, also operating in the Netherlands, agreed to defer payment. For all bonds maturing in 2021, totaling 20 million euros, FNG will not have to pay off any debts or interest until the end of this year.

Negative reports about FNG have followed each other in recent months. Trading in the share has come to a halt since May this year because the Belgian stock exchange regulator is investigating the company. The FSMA questions a number of unclear transactions in the 2018 annual report. Meanwhile, the chief financial officer and the chief executive officer – one of the company’s three founders – have been replaced and a crisis manager has been appointed.

Also read: Suddenly the fairytale of fashion empire FNG seems to be over

Recently, the 2019 annual figures published with a delay revealed the exact nature of the problem at FNG. The fashion group suffered a loss of 293 million euros last year, even before the corona crisis. Moreover, the company had a total debt of almost 734 million euros.

The annual figures revealed even more. Sales for 2018 had to be revised, and were reduced from 512 to 472 million euros. In addition, the report found that the new company freeze may not provide all figures, because for some transactions “the underlying documents are missing, incomplete or unclear, or the economic rationale is unclear”. A third of the loss was found to be due to ‘bad debts’, money that ran through complex purchasing structures, but that FNG is unlikely to be able to recover. Flemish newspapers also wrote this week that FNG artificially boosted profits with at least one takeover.

The bond holders’ payment deferment now gives a bit of air, but is just one of the many hurdles to be overcome for FNG. Earlier this week, the fashion group announced a reorganization. FNG is closing 47 stores in Belgium, and 287 employees – a quarter of the Belgian staff – could lose their jobs in the near future.

The company is also still negotiating outstanding loans with banks, and is in talks with the Flemish government. He is not only a shareholder, but has also invested 22.5 million euros in the company.

In addition, at a fourth meeting that was held on Friday and where votes were to be voted on bonds worth 45 million euros maturing in 2023, there were not enough members present to vote. A new date is set for this.

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Finally, the muzzle innovative Cork we don’t hide your face.

She added, “We put all our gags now we know who we’re dealing with. It’s a great idea.”

Following the submission of the request for the gag, it sends to customers a link to save them to the application allows them to capture a facial image and send it to the company’s website.

A few days later up sleeve printed it features the lower half of the face to the user via mail. Said wrapped they said that the price of these quantum up to 19.99 euros (22.60 USD) and can be washed and used for between eight and ten times.

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Using a small room to take pictures the software program and apply through mobile phones, over Charles de wrap their muzzle and applies the image of the contours of the lower half of the face of the will use.

Reuters said “the use of a room to capture images for the gags made specially”.

And I thought the roll they after that have led impeachment proceedings public because of the SGRF-19 in Belgium to the collapse of the company which he owned and was engaged in the organization of events.

She said Virginia Tai a mother of two children from the City Mahjong beauty outside Brussels, the “quantum of no ordinary character itself. Either print a picture of our face on them they become more fun and harmony”.

She added, “We put all our gags now we know who we’re dealing with. It’s a great idea.”

Following the submission of the request for the gag, it sends to customers a link to save them to the application allows them to capture a facial image and send it to the company’s website.

A few days later up sleeve printed it features the lower half of the face to the user via mail. Said wrapped they said that the price of these quantum up to 19.99 euros (22.60 USD) and can be washed and used for between eight and ten times.

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What do we know about the violent clashes that took place in Dijon ?

Question asked by Dzamil the 15/06/2020

Hello,

Your question is about the events that took place this weekend on 13 and 14 June in Dijon and around, in the Burgundy region. On social networks, flocking of multiple videos showing violent clashes.

Several pictures show some of the bands who wander in the city centre and take it to a shisha bar, the Black Pearl, located in the boulevard de la Trémouille, not far from the Republic square.

On some videos, posted online Sunday, including several dozen men are visible. They compete, sometimes with bare hands, sometimes by means of iron bars.

Other, filmed by witnesses from different angles, show a car seeming to rush right on a mob before the aircraft struck an earth-full and from in barrels, at very high speed.

On videos more graphics (that CheckNews has chosen not to relay), we can see the car stopped, just after the accident. The driver, dead, is, in part, défenestré. His hands are in blood.

On Twitter, in the comments, reference is made repeatedly to clashes “between the Chechens and dealers“.

All these scenes fit effectively in a global context of clashes that went on for several days. The prefecture of Côte-d’or, contacted by CheckNewsconfirms that these events are likely related to settlements of accounts : “The weekend that has just ended has been marked by violence committed in the agglomeration of dijon, france, it seems, in the context of a settlement of accounts between members of the chechen community in France and the residents of the district of Grésilles and other districts of the metropolis-dijon”, she says.

Investigation

The prefect “condemns these behaviors […] with the greatest firmness” and indicates that a judicial investigation is now open.

Eric Mathais, the chief prosecutor of Dijon, has not responded to the demands of CheckNews. But as of this weekend, in the local press, the vice-prosecutor was state ten wounded, “some seriously”, during the descent to the shisha bar on the Friday night. The prosecution also confirms that injured by bullets, Saturday night, always in Dijon.

This Monday, he responded to our confreres from France Blue. About the driver involved in an accident, it confirms that the latter is currently in hospital in a serious condition. The scene took place in the district of Grésilles, in the north-east of Dijon on Sunday night. The prosecutor explains : “We were live at the command center of the police, we saw on the cameras these 140 people from the chechen community gathered on the market square to Grésilles. And there was a vehicle that came close, which, indeed, at a given moment sketched a movement to rush in the crowd, then there was this accident.”

In this interview, the attorney also confirms the opening of an investigation entrusted to the directorate for interregional judicial police and urban security, Dijon, france. But, he said, no arrest has yet taken place at the present time. The priority, according to him, is to secure the situation in order to avoid the worst.

About facts, it evokes a “drift community on racism. These are apparently members of the chechen community who have called on social networks from Friday to avenge the violence committed on a young by people from the community in the maghreb. Three nights in a row, it was therefore up to 140 people who come to Dijon in this context”.

Violence in Nice

According to France 3 Provence-Alpes-Côte d’azur, this violence is are now exported up to Nice, where shots were recorded in the district of Chestnuts, in the night of Sunday to Monday. Again, a video shows the shot. Nice Morning indicates that three men of chechen origin had been injured and that six people are currently in police custody.

For the time being, to Dijon, the authorities are trying to avoid escalation. The prefecture said that on Monday evening still, “a squadron of gendarmes mobiles will be deployed on the ground.” The day before, a half-section of SRC and reinforcements of the TRAY were on the ground.


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A Brussels of 19 years, accusing the forces of the order of the have “typed” and “insulting” on the sidelines of an event in tribute to George Floyd in the belgian capital on June 7, 2020. While the video, where the young man appears to be the wounded face goes viral, journalists Anais Condomines and Vincent Coquaz are trying to trace the source of the story.

Anais Condomines

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In Belgium, the hospitals of the Brothers of Charity want to continue the euthanasia

The Belgian organization of the Brothers of Charity has been preached by the Vatican, which has deprived it of the right to present itself as “Catholic”, and intends to continue to carry out euthanasia in its psychiatric hospitals.

“We do not see the need to adjust our operations on a practical level (…) because we are convinced that we are acting correctly”, affirms, in a press release, this association which manages, in Belgium, the works of the religious congregation of Brothers of Charity.

→ READ. In Belgium, the works of the Brothers of Charity will no longer be “Catholic”

In 2017, she had indeed decided to admit euthanasia for her psychiatric patients, justifying her decision by the desire to comply with Belgian law after a Flemish Catholic retirement home was forced to pay a fine for refusing euthanasia to a 74-year-old patient with lung cancer.

“We think we act with maximum respect for life”

According to Mattias Devriendt, head of communications for the association, the 20-odd euthanasia practiced since then in their 12 psychiatric hospitals (1) nevertheless testifies to “a vision more strict than that indicated by Belgian law, very flexible “

But it is obviously already too much in the eyes of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which recalled “the moral unacceptability of euthanasia” and “the impossibility of introducing this practice in Catholic hospitals”.

For Raf De Rycke, president of the Brothers of Charity association, this is a ” point of view ” which can evolve over time and take better account of the context. “On this complex issue, we believe we act with maximum respect for life, he explains to The cross. We remain convinced that our vision of euthanasia has a pastoral content which is fully in line with Christian personalism. “

“It’s euthanasia that it’s about”

He also believes that Brother René Stockman, superior general of the Brothers of Charity, who sits in Rome, would use the pretext of euthanasia to settle his accounts with the Belgian branch of his congregation, of which he was provincial from 1994 to 2000, after being responsible for his mental hospitals.

In doing so, said Raf De Rycke, the superior general would be acting in violation of the principle of subsidiarity when the Belgian religious members of the association’s board of directors had approved the orientation text allowing euthanasia.

An accusation rejected by Brother Stockman, of which Raf De Rycke was the assistant in the 1990s before succeeding him as head of psychiatric care for the organization. “It’s euthanasia it’s all about, he corrects. It is this subject which, for three years, has been at the heart of the meetings that we have had with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Secretary of State. “

“You can’t touch life”

He also recalls that, in 2018, the general chapter which re-elected him for a fourth term as head of the Brothers of Charity had “clearly confirmed that one cannot touch life”. “This is not my personal vision but that of the whole chapter”, he insisted, while recognizing that all religious may not agree.

In October 2018, following this chapter, he had not renewed the terms of directors of two religious who had approved the organization’s decision to practice euthanasia. Which makes the organization say that it would not have the support of the Belgian province. “In religious life, a province cannot say that the decisions of a general chapter are not for it”, nevertheless recalls the religious.

In this story, it is not impossible that the will to settle scores is hidden with a figure labeled as “conservative” after having engaged in the Belgian debate on euthanasia, especially when it was a question of open this possibility to psychiatric patients, of whom Brother Stockman is a recognized specialist.

A very secularized Flemish Catholicism

“We cannot exclude the will to attack a personality opposed to what is seen, by large swathes of a liberal and very secularized Flemish Catholicism, as a normal evolution of society”, says an observer of Belgian Catholicism.

Not imagining this drift of Flemish Catholicism at the time of forming the association to which they entrusted their works, the Brothers of Charity were undoubtedly careless in not foreseeing that the decision could one day escape them.

The decisions are now taken within a board of directors where they are a minority, they know today that they will have to give up works yet at the heart of the action of the congregation from its foundation in the early nineteenth century in Ghent. Works that also enabled the Belgian province to finance numerous solidarity projects around the world.

The battle will move on the judicial front

Raf De Ryke said the superior general feared that this important source of funding for the work of his congregation around the world would disappear. Except that solidarity within an international religious congregation cannot be limited by secular borders.

Theological and moral, the battle is therefore likely to move on the legal front, and in particular on the key question of the ownership of psychiatric hospitals.

For Brother Stockman, these are the property of another association under Belgian law still controlled by the religious and separate from the organization now breaking with the congregation. For Raf De Rycke, the situation is more complex, the goods belonging to the Belgian region of the Brothers of Charity which makes them available to the organization thanks to long-term leases which are difficult to question.

“Brothers of Charity”: “a name we have the right to use”

“We are currently consulting lawyers. A solution through open and constructive dialogue seems difficult to me, even if we will make every effort possible “, he said, recalling that “Belgian civil law must prevail over Church law”.

He also said that there was no question of questioning the name of the organization Brothers of Charity, which was a source of confusion with the eponymous religious congregation. “We explicitly chose to keep it last year, he explains. It is a known name in Belgium that we believe we have the right to use. “

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Behind the scenes of Brussels – Containment: the debate prohibited

It only took a few moments, on March 16, for the Head of State and his government, in the name of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, to place the French under house arrest and deprive them of most of their freedoms civil, political and social that we thought inalienable: freedom to come and go, freedom of assembly, freedom to undertake, freedom to work, etc. Justice has almost been brought to a halt, lawyers confined, provisional detentions automatically extended, the police (understood in a very extensive sense since they include municipal police officers and the like) invested with full powers apply these custodial measures.

Containment without legal basis

This suspension of the rule of law was done without legal basis. Indeed, the decree of March 16 restricting the movement of citizens does not fall within the powers of the executive, since only a judicial judge, the liberty judge, can normally decide on an individual basis. Nevertheless, administrative justice, in this case the Council of State, validated it on the basis of the jurisprudential theory of “exceptional circumstances”, which is probably not its most inspired decision.

It was only on March 23 that Parliament gave a legal basis to the measures announced on March 17 by hastily passing the law creating a “state of health emergency” which authorizes the government to trigger it “in the event of a disaster. health endangering, by its nature and gravity, the health of the population ”, a particularly vague definition. This whole law cultivates vagueness, the offenses it provides for example leaving a large part to police interpretation and therefore to arbitrariness. Renewable by Parliament – possibly for a period longer than two months – it gives full powers to the executive, Parliament being stripped of its powers and reduced to the role of mere spectator. If the Assembly has not changed the government’s plan, the majority being what it is, the Senate, dominated by the classic right, has fortunately managed to introduce some safeguards in this improvised text and poorly put together in providing in particular that it will cease to apply in any event on 1er April 2021, unless a law to the contrary is passed. A fundamental clarification which the government services had curiously not thought of.

Not quite a dictatorship

It is remarkable that this exceptional legislation, justified by the use of a warlike language unique in Europe (“We are at war”) was not the subject of a referral to the Constitutional Council, the opposition, all as forbidden from terror as public opinion, having given up exercising its rights, an unprecedented fact, when it is a particularly serious attack on the rule of law. The constitutional judges were only seized on one point of detail, the suspension of the time limits to judge the questions preliminary of constitutionality (QPC), a provision which it moreover validated.

As long as the state of health emergency applies (until the end of July we have just learned), France is no longer a democracy, even if it is not quite a dictatorship. In his time, François Mitterrand denounced the “permanent coup” that were the institutions of the Fifth Republic. The coronavirus has made it possible to carry out this institutional logic. The head of state, relying on a submissive majority and facing non-existent opposition, seized all the levers of power by invoking the need to preserve the health of the French and a health emergency that he does did not want to see it coming, he who ten days earlier encouraged the French to continue living as before.

This parenthesis of the rule of law was accompanied by the brutal halt of a large part of the economy, a logical consequence of confinement. Above all, the government decided, without any consultation, which businesses could remain open, forcing companies to lay off more than 11 million private sector workers.

Lack of debate

It is truly staggering that these exceptional powers entrusted to the State to apply a brutal and without nuance confinement to an entire country, one of the hardest in Europe with those of Spain, Italy and Belgium , did not give rise to any debate, as if there was no other choice. However, never a democracy used in the past this method to fight against a pandemic (there was only partial confinements at the beginning of the previous century), in particular during the Spanish flu of 1918-1919, of the Asian flu of 1959 or of the Hong Kong flu of 1969. The fact that containment was a solution invented by China, a totalitarian regime, to contain the coronavirus pandemic should at least have questioned its legitimacy. However, it imposed itself almost naturally, all playing in reality when Italy took the decision to confine the whole of its population from March 10, which caused a domino effect, each wanting to show that he was also keen to protect its population: Spain imposed it on March 15, France on March 16, Belgium on March 18 …

However, there was room for debate and on all fronts. On the principle of containment itself first. Because it is only a stopgap aimed at slowing the spread of the virus and avoiding congestion in hospitals which could result in additional deaths. Clearly, the virus will continue to circulate and kill those it must kill after the containment is lifted – in a proportion that no one knows – since it does not exist and will not exist for one or two years a vaccine and that treatments are still in the experimental stage.

Containment is a political trap

Obviously, no one realized that it was going to be very difficult to get out of the containment once decided without political damage, a part of the public opinion risking to be self-persuaded over the days that it is in eradicating the disease. If the pandemic continues to kill, and it will, the government will be automatically accused of endangering the health of its citizens to save “the economy”, a swear word for some French people as if working for a living was secondary to health… In other words, the temptation will be strong to return to blind confinement to silence the controversies or to get out of them as late as possible, the path chosen by France after six weeks of state of emergency sanitary.

This is also why countries like Sweden, Switzerland, Germany or the Netherlands either have not adopted this strategy, letting life take its normal course, or have applied it with much more finesse, which made it possible to avoid passing through the box of exceptional powers entrusted to the executive and especially to break the economy.

Why confine an entire country?

This total foreclosure of a country is all the more questionable since whole regions were and are almost untouched by the virus: why impose the same treatment in Creuse as in Ile de France, in Puglia as in Milan ? Why not have it confined to the extent of the pandemic, just like Germany, where the Länder are competent in public health, has done with the success we know? Thus, from the start, two foci were identified in France: the Oise and Mulhouse. However, rather than reacting immediately by isolating these two regions and deploying military medical means to relieve hospitals, the government procrastinated, allowing the virus to spread. It remains staggering that it was not until March 24, a week after the decision to confine the country, that the military medical service was sent to reinforce Mulhouse! From there to think that total containment was also motivated by the inability of the authorities to anticipate the crisis, there is only one step that I will be careful not to take.

Similarly, the choice of companies to close and the precautions to be taken would also have been a possible area of ​​discussion. For example, it quickly became known that air conditioning allowed the virus to circulate more than a meter and contaminate many people. So does closing shoe repair shops, art galleries or florists and leaving supermarkets open make medical sense? Likewise, was school closure necessary? All this was left to the discretion of a bureaucracy without control and without any consultation with all economic and social actors.

Why place an entire population under residence?

Finally, it appeared very early on that the disease was overwhelmingly fatal for people over the age of 70 (average age of death in Italy or France: 80) and those with serious pathologies, in particular clear the weak. Was it therefore rational to confine all assets and plunge the country into recession? Perhaps we should have focused on protecting these at-risk groups rather than putting a whole country under wraps without thinking of tomorrow, especially since we know full well that the virus is here for a long time.

The debate becomes, at this point, particularly emotional, because it refers to our relationship to death. Why has such a pandemic, which is not the first the world has faced and which is especially far from being the most deadly in history, led states to decide on unprecedented measures while knowing that they were not a cure? Why such a panic, especially when you compare the mortality caused by the coronavirus with that of other diseases? Although we must still be careful, since five months after its appearance, we still know very little about covid-19, which should warn us about the scientism that seized us, the doctors having said everything and its contrary to this pandemic, making political decision particularly difficult. However, let’s remember that 400,000 new cancers are diagnosed each year in France and that 150,000 French people die from it, and yet tobacco and alcohol are still not banned, while that would avoid much of it. If all life deserves to be saved, why be so casual about cancer? Similarly, seasonal flu (while there is a vaccine that a large majority considers dispensable) kill each year between 3,000 and 15,000 people (not to mention the more than 30,000 deaths from the Hong Kong flu in 1969 in a country of 51 million inhabitants or the equivalent number of deaths in 1959 in a country of 45 million inhabitants), seasonal respiratory infections 68,000 people, road accidents 3500 people to which must be added the disabled for life. And yet, no one has thought of banning the car (and every measure aimed at strengthening safety has its share of protests, remember the 80 km / h) or to make the fight against pollution or junk food a categorical imperative.

If we look at the statistics of mortality in the world, we see that hunger (yet easy and inexpensive to eradicate), malaria, AIDS or even wars (often made with the weapons produced by our industries) kill infinitely more than the coronavirus will ever kill.

Choose your comrade side, but there is only one good side, that of containment!

It would probably be necessary to question the responsibility of the audiovisual media in this panic which has taken hold of Western public opinion (with a German exception, German televisions having voluntarily decided to treat covid-19 in the place it deserves). Announce every morning the number of dead without putting them in perspective (compared to the usual average of the dead, their age, the comorbidity from which they suffered, etc.), devote entire newspapers to the pandemic can only shake even the best made heads … Imagine that every morning the number of deaths in France is truncated for all causes and that all the newspapers are devoted to it: who would still dare to simply live?

This is not to say that a death is immaterial, but simply that any public policy must be subject to a cost-benefit assessment. If we do not ban the sale of weapons, tobacco, alcohol, cars, trucks, thermal power stations, it is because collectively we believe that the cost would be greater than the benefit we would derive from it. But this debate, in the emotional surge that has been going on for two months, is in fact prohibited. Those who dared to question the chosen strategy and especially on its duration were pilloried by the most radical, those who are heard. To be opposed to the prolongation of confinement is to be for the “sacrifice” of those who are sick, “to spit in the mouth of the dead” and so on. In short, choose your comrade side, but there is only one good side, that of containment! I have even been threatened with death, myself and my family, by good people who believe that all life must be saved at any cost without the contradiction of their words touching their minds for daring to me. question in two tweets from April 9, three weeks after the start of confinement: ” It’s crazy when you think about it: plunging the world into the worst recession since the Second World War for a pandemic that has so far killed less than 100,000 people (not to mention their advanced age) in a world of 7 billion inhabitants. Seasonal flu, which kills especially young children, is between 290,000 and 650,000 per year worldwide. And everyone fucks, but serious. “

The worst recession of all time outside of the war (and more)

However, confinement will lead to an unimaginable recession by its violence: it should reach between 8% and 15% of GDP, an unprecedented decline in activity in peacetime (we must go back to 1942 to record a recession of -10 %). We have never brought an economy to a complete halt as we have just done, we must be aware of this. Partial unemployment now affects nearly twelve million workers (one in two private workers!) And the layoffs caused by thousands of business bankruptcies will number in the hundreds of thousands or even millions once the partial unemployment scheme supported by the state will expire (because it costs a fortune). And the longer the shutdown, the more difficult it will be to restart. The cost generated by the establishment of a social safety net and by economic plans will lead to an unprecedented deterioration in public accounts and the young generations who will have to pay twice for confinement: by the loss of their jobs and by raising taxes for those who will keep it.

It should not be forgotten that unemployment is also a health catastrophe, but more diffuse and therefore socially more acceptable: we thus estimate at 14,000 the deaths which it causes each year in France by induced diseases. And how not to speak of its procession of misery, hunger, social downgrading, etc. The effects of confinement are also going to have terrible consequences on the minds of French people, on violence against women and children, on their health (for example, early screenings for cancer, stroke, heart attack are suspended and nothing is known about suicides, etc.), about dropping out of school (how many children have simply disappeared from the system? ).

A lastingly weakened rule of law

Finally, to believe that public freedoms, democracy, will come out intact from this episode is just a sweet dream. The state of health emergency will remain enshrined in our law for a long time exactly as the state of emergency, launched in 2015, was finally incorporated into ordinary law. It is rare for a state to give up on its own the powers gained over the legislature and the justice system. The tracking of individuals, via smartphones, which some consider to be a necessity, could well become the rule in the name of safeguarding our health which has become THE priority, privacy being reduced to the rank of concern of another age. Having chosen total containment and the state of emergency will leave lasting traces in French democracy.

I do not pretend to provide an answer here. Simply, the first elements of the deconfinement show that another way would have been possible: confinement not department, wide discretion left to local authorities, referral to the judicial judge to register the carriers of the virus, etc. I just regret the absence of democratic deliberation before the establishment of the state of health emergency and its extension. As if sacrificing generations under the age of 60 and suspending the rule of law were obvious facts.

In provisional conclusion, I think that we should not be mistaken about the meaning of the unimaginable event that we are experiencing: it is the triumph of individualism, that of the immediate health of the individual in the face of well-being current and future collective. The terms of the debate are in reality identical to those of climate change: should we accept to sacrifice our immediate well-being to ensure the survival of the human species?

Some reading tips:

Note from the magistrates’ union on the state of health emergency

“Let us beware of falling into a sickly, viro-induced, social and political reactivity”

The catastrophic cost-benefit of containment

Breaking out of blind confinement

Dare to discuss confinement (a Belgian point of view)

Will the remedy ultimately be worse than the coronavirus? (a Swiss point of view)

“Let us die as we wish” and “I prefer to catch covid-19 in a free country than to escape it in a totalitarian state”

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Virtual tours (33) Bruges, (almost) as if you were there!

(Photo PB)

Confinement obliges, no question of going to Bruges, a city that I rediscovered with so much pleasure last winter.

To make us wait before we can hit the road, the city’s tourist office offers virtual tours. For example a 360 degree virtual tour of Bruges. Just click on the red dots that appear to you on the map, to see in close-up each of the remarkable sites of the city, with explanations to the key.

A virtual visit to the Groeninge Museum is also possible. Click here. Art lovers will be able to admire in detail more than 100 works of art from this museum’s impressive collection..

Photo PB)

A wide variety of videos have also been posted. To take advantage of all the virtual offer from the Tourist Office, click here.

To read the posts written on this blog after my last visit to Bruges, it’s here.

Paula Boyer

Associated topics

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Belgium is cautiously embarking on deconfinement

Correspondent in Brussels

The Belgian federal government unveiled the kingdom’s deconfinement plan on Friday evening after an interminable meeting of the National Security Council. In this country of 11 million inhabitants, where the coronavirus killed nearly 6,700 people, the return to normal will be “Progressive, evolutionary and not definitive”, warned the Prime Minister, Sophie Wilmès. “Nothing, nothing is set in stone and certainly not the deadlines”, she warned again, specifying that a resumption of contamination could result in questioning the planned steps, or even going backwards.

In Belgium, there are three dates to remember: May 4, May 11, May 18. A first step will be taken on May 4, with the possibility of meeting two people outside of his family circle and not just one as is currently the case and the resumption of public transport. It is from this date that masks will become mandatory in public transport for all people over the age of 12. Users should bring them to the bus and tram stops, but also when they enter the stations. And it is to facilitate the production of masks that fabric stores and haberdashery will be allowed to reopen on May 4. The federated entities also undertook on Friday evening to provide the population with at least one mask per person. Companies without contact with customers are also invited to resume their activity, but with the greatest preference for teleworking.

In class, no more than ten students

A week later, on May 11, all retail businesses will reopen. With probably strict rules which still need to be clarified. Perhaps museums could resume their activity. On May 18, part of the children will return to school. But there will be no more than 10 children per class and each pupil must have at least 4 m².

As for social life, it remains very supervised. Dinners with friends at home could possibly resume from May 18. The opening of part of the restaurants is planned for June 8, but no date has been given at this stage for cafes and bars. And the frail, especially the elderly, are the big ones missing from this deconfinement plan. This means that the rules, especially those concerning retirement homes, continue.

As in other countries, tracking will be implemented on a voluntary basis. “Each federated entity will have a call center with around 2,000 people in total who will follow up with the support of a common platform and a common database”, said Elio du Rupo, Minister-President of Wallonia. The tests, which are lacking, will not be deployed on the whole population but reserved for people who need them: those who have symptoms, whose profession exposes them or who have been in contact with infected people.

Question of “balance”

Belgium entered the confinement phase on March 18. On Friday, the national security council, which is piloting the crisis and in which the representatives of the federated entities sit, did not follow all the recommendations of the experts. They recommended a faster but much more gradual reopening of businesses. Questioned on this point during the press conference, Sophie Wilmès argued that a deconfinement was a question of“balanced” and that this balance would be respected, in particular with rules which would limit the influx of customers into stores. “There is suffering, entrepreneurs who can no longer make a living, also stressed the Prime Minister. If you choose companies based on their size, you are creating discrimination. ” Even if health remains the number one priority for the government, Belgium, like so many other countries, must try to revive the economy and businesses. Support measures have already been very expensive. In early April, in an interview at Evening, Federal Budget Minister David Clarinval said that the Belgian budget deficit would reach 24 billion euros this year, compared to 9.3 billion in 2019 and 3.4 billion in 2018.

Who knows how long this crisis will last? Anxious not to lull the Belgians into an illusion, the Prime Minister repeated, in any case, that the proposed steps were only indicative. She also showed great humility. “Many are waiting for clear perspectives but it is impossible to offer guarantees, to answer all the uncertainties because deconfinement, an operation never carried out, largely depends on the evolution of the health situation and that nobody can predict with certainty What will happen tomorrow”.

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The non-essential industry of Belgium will return to activity from May 4 and the trade will reopen on 11

The Belgian National Security Council, which includes federal and regional political leaders and a team of experts, has decided this Friday after a meeting that lasted more than six hours, the package of measures that will mark the gradual return to normality in this country. With less strict confinement than in Spain, Belgium plans its de-escalation with several key dates starting next May 4.

That day will allow the return to activity in non-essential sectors such as construction. Compliance with strict safety protocols will be required, starting with the guarantee that workers will be able to maintain a minimum distance of 1.5 meters. Likewise, from May 11 all commercial establishments will be able to open their doors with the same requirement of maintaining hygiene and minimum distances between customers. Today they only serve the public supermarkets, small food stores, pharmacies and, since last Saturday, also DIY and garden stores.

The use of masks will be compulsory in public transport and in those places where physical separation cannot be guaranteed from day 4 and from 12 years of age. The practice of outdoor activities (walking, running and cycling) will also be extended to other sports in the coming days and walks of up to three people will be allowed together, even if they do not reside in the same residence. And already from the 4th family reunions will be authorized, and of friends of a maximum of ten people in a timely manner. Looking ahead to the 18th, the return to face-to-face school activity at certain educational levels is contemplated.

Direct | This is how the fight against the coronavirus progresses

The Council meeting started at two-thirty in the afternoon and ended seven hours later. At 22.00 PM Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès appeared, who defended the slow return to normality in the need to avoid a new outbreak of the pandemic . “The lack of confinement depends largely on the evolution of the health situation. Our work is based on assumptions, forecasts, and nobody can predict with certainty what will happen tomorrow. The main objective continues to be to avoid saturation in hospitals and certain measures may vary depending on the evolution of the virus.

This Friday, the expert committee has reported 190 new deaths in the last twenty-four hours (91 in hospitals 97 in nursing homes), bringing the number of deaths in the country to 6,679. The total number of infections stands at 44,293 after 1,497 new infections were reported, and the number of patients who have been discharged from hospital (322) has exceeded that of new admissions (210), which has allowed the inertia of detente in the ICUs in the country, 23 fewer beds are occupied and 681 patients receive artificial ventilation. “We have achieved our collective goal and that gives us short-term prospects of being able to gradually resume the course of our lives,” said one of the experts, Benoît Ramacker.

The virologist Emmanuel André, who has been the spokesman for the crisis committee that daily reports in this country on the spread of the pandemic for at least six weeks, has been the great absentee from the briefing on Friday. He has resigned from the post “for personal and professional reasons.” Through his Twitter account, André announced the resignation with this message: «We have entered another phase of the epidemic, a phase that will take time. It is time for me to take a few days with my children, which I have not seen much in the last months, and to rethink how I can continue contributing in the future ».

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Radio mast also damaged just across Belgium border by arson NOW

After several cell towers in the Netherlands, a cell tower was also set on fire in Belgium on Saturday evening, the police confirmed on Sunday. VRT.

It concerns a transmission mast from Proximus and Telenet in the town of Pelt, which is close to the Dutch border. The fence around the radio mast has been damaged and the mast itself has been “significantly damaged” by the fire.

Radio masts have been set on fire in several places in the Netherlands in recent weeks. This may be done by people who believe there is a link between 5G radiation and the spread of the coronavirus.

The Belgian police cannot yet say whether the arson of the radio mast in Pelt and the incidents in the Netherlands have anything to do with each other. The affected transmission tower in Belgium does not use 5G technology.

It is not yet clear whether the police have already identified one or more suspects. Further research is being carried out at the transmission tower.

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