The first of September marks the end of the holidays and the return of Belgium’s children to school – or to a new school in the case of Princess Eléonore. Here’s what else is new on Sept 1.
• A ban on hunting wolves in Flanders introduced in March has not been renewed and expires on August 31.
• Those children starting school today will now include five-year-olds for the first time, as the age for compulsory schooling has now gone down in French-speaking and Flemish schools alike.
• The general speed limit on the Brussels ring road goes down to 100 km/h.
• Retailers will no longer be able to turn a blind eye to customers using meal cheques to buy non-food items.
• A 20 km/h speed limit imposed in some parts of Brussels within the central pentagon will be lifted for main arteries and busy streets, and a 30 km/h limit brought in.
• Caregivers who look after family members will now be granted a special status by health insurance providers, as well as the right to a new type of leave from work, paid for by the medical insurance system.
Health minister Maggie De Block described their work as “of inestimable value,” and said, “They must therefore be able to count on the proper social security. Thanks to this status, we will be able to monitor informal care much better. It will give policymakers guidance in developing measures to support carers.”
• Cultural and other events will be allowed to reduce the required social distance to one metre instead of the 1.5m operating elsewhere.
• The threshold allowing those on low incomes access to pro Deo legal advice is being raised by €200 from €1,026 for single people and €1,317 for families. In the coming three years the figure will go up again, each time by €100.
• Three new provincial governors take up their posts in Limburg, East Flanders and Flemish Brabant. They are respectively Jos Lantmeeters (N-VA), Carina Van Cauter (Open VLD) and Jan Spooren (N-VA).
• The city of Leuven marks the start of the new school year by making 60% of the city centre a cycling zone – a network of streets allowing cyclists to pass over the full width of one-way streets and the right side of two-way streets without being overtaken by motor vehicles. In addition, 20 junctions in the city and its outlying districts will make it possible for cyclists to go straight or turn right on a red light.
“Since the corona crisis, cycling has increased in Leuven, which we would like to see and encourage, even after corona,” said mayor Mohamed Ridouani (sp.a) when announcing the measures back in May.
“After all, it is the best way to make our city more pleasant, more liveable and healthier.”
• Finally, the governor of West Flanders, Carl De Caluwé, will lift the obligation for people to wear face masks on the seafront along the coast, although a mask must be carried on the person. De Caluwé called on visitors and residents alike to observe social distancing.
The Brussels Times