What’s the latest?

Representatives from the federal and regional governments and each of Belgium’s language communities met on Sunday to discuss the recent increase in coronavirus cases. Interior minister Pieter De Crem will ask local and federal police to reinforce their policing of the coronavirus measures, including social distancing in cafes, mask-wearing in shops and limiting gatherings to 15 people. Health experts told the meeting that the increase in cases was largely due to “particularly localised problems” – such as family gatherings.

Belgium recorded 187 new coronavirus cases in the past 24 hours, according to Sciensano’s Monday stats, with a daily average of 154 confirmed infections over the past week, which is up 66% on the previous week. A full set of stats for Saturday, Sunday and Monday will be published on Tuesday morning.

A group of citizens have filed an urgent legal claim with the Council of State, questioning the legality of Belgium’s obligation to wear a mask in enclosed public spaces. The operator of a cinema in Tamines, Namur province, has also joined the claim. The group say: “Such an obligation causes significant harm to a large number of people, such as people who are deaf or hard of hearing and who need to be able to read lips to socialise; people who are medically unable to wear a mask; people wishing to be able to worship in decent conditions; and companies that have already suffered greatly from the crisis.”

Some 27 scouts and six supervisors at a camp near Couvin, Namur province, were sent home after a child tested positive for coronavirus. The boy felt ill while hiking and was isolated and tested. “The concept of bubbles for scout camps works,” said a scouts spokesman.

The 12th edition of the Millenium international documentary film festival, initially scheduled for 27 March to 4 April, will now take place from 16-25 October in seven locations around Brussels. The full programme will be unveiled in early September.

Public transport use in Belgium is back up to 50% of normal capacity, according to the Stib and SNCB. Walloon public transport operator TEC reported a lower occupancy rate, around 30%.

Belgian DJ Lost Frequencies will perform a set on the rooftop of Brussels’ Royal Palace on Tuesday evening for the Belgian national day. The set will be streamed live on his Facebook page. A virtual guided tour of the palace will also be streamed on the Belgian monarchy’s Facebook page and broadcast on VRT and RTBF, as the summer opening of the palace to the public has not gone ahead this year.

Latest trends – Saturday 18 July

Over the past seven days

  • Average daily infections: 127.4 (+46%/week)
  • Total infections: 63,499
  • Average daily deaths: 1.6 (-35%)
  • Total deaths: 9,800
  • Average daily hospital admissions: 10.3 (+1%)
  • In hospital: 143 (+1%)
  • In intensive care: 32 (-12%)