Belgium relaxes the rules and bets on the support of the population

While national figures show an acceleration in contamination since the start of the school year, the Belgian authorities are adopting a strategy that goes against the French turn of the screw.

From October 1, wearing a mask outside in the Brussels region will only be compulsory in high-traffic areas.
From October 1, wearing a mask outside in the Brussels region will only be compulsory in high-traffic areas. YVES HERMAN/REUTERS

Correspondent in Brussels

In Belgium too, the authorities have often groped about the virus. But, at 1is October, it is a turn of one hundred and eighty degrees which awaits the population. Against the grain of the French turn of the screw.

While national figures show an acceleration of contaminations since the start of the school year and even more in recent days, while the country has since Wednesday been classified “red” by the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, against “dark orange »Previously, Belgium will considerably relax anti-coronavirus measures. Including in Brussels and Antwerp, particularly affected. The Prime Minister, Sophie Wilmès, moreover set the tone, Wednesday, during her press conference: “The virus is still there, but life must go on!”

The objective of the Belgian authorities is to increase adherence to the rules and to make the population more responsible. “The current measures are so strict that less and less

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Death of Annie Cordy, figure of the music hall with frenzied joviality

Tata Yoyo died, at 92, this Friday in Vallauris (Alpes-Maritimes). “She fainted around 6 pm. The firefighters arrived very quickly, tried everything to revive her ”, and “She left in a few minutes”, told his niece to AFP. Tata Yoyo, or the tree that hides the forest from the various activities of Annie Cordy, whose talent during seventy years of career has been to pass through the decades, on disc, on television and in the cinema, leaving above all the trace of his frenzied joviality.

Born in 1928 in Laeken, a district of Brussels, Léonie Cooreman spent a happy childhood in the smell of wood chips in the middle of the workshop of her carpenter father. A painting of Queen Astrid and King Leopold hangs on the living room wall. Her mother pushes her to sing, to learn the piano, and the young girl is noticed in charity galas then in radio hooks from the age of 14 years. Leader of the review at the Bœuf sur le toit in Brussels, she joined the Parisian Lido at the age of 21. She then changes her name to Annie Cordy.

The 1950s established her as a figure in the music hall, yes woman multisupports: one foot in the operetta (with Bourvil or Luis Mariano in an adaptation of Mexico singer), another in the song (Burgos’ Tantina, Davy Crockett’s Ballade …), without forgetting the singing tours (Olympia, Bobino) and the cinema which caught her from 1954 (If Versailles were told to me de Guitry). She is assisted by François-Henri Bruno, with whom she will share forty years of common life. “He was everything to me. My husband, my lover, my manager, my father… I have never been a woman for men. Work has always come first ”, she explained to Paris Match. Where she also likes to say that she could have had a career on Broadway, but “Bruno didn’t want to. He said to me: “We eat too badly here! We are leaving.” I loved him, I followed him ”.

Worker obsessed professional

It is therefore on the Old Continent, and in particular on the Franco-Belgian axis, that Annie Cordy will become a staple of the profession, sometimes the blond hair in firecracker, sometimes cut in the bowl. She is everywhere, a life of appearances linked by an expressive look and a Gibbs smile, wondering what she didn’t do, and especially who she really was, this Annie Cordy, Father’s maid, Frida Oum Papa, with his joy that sometimes hurt the head, that we see in advertisements for Tripleboeuf beer, which will later perform Madame without embarrassment at the theater, or even Shakespeare (the Gossips of Windsor with Patrick Préjean), turns into Madame SOS (1982) for an early 1980s TV series or stars in the dunce (2016) by Paul Vecchiali but also the bourgeois nice guy (1969) by Raoul André and who has a seat to her name in all variety television shows (Michel Drucker, the Carpentiers, Danièle Gilbert) during the 70s and 80s, where she also hosts shows.

Under her big hat, we found a professional maniac for work, kindly royalist but not religious, proud to say that she paid her taxes in France and one of whose misfortunes has been not to have had children. Since yesterday, on social networks, she is described as “A complete artist who knows how to do everything, dance, sing, act, move and make people laugh” (Mireille Mathieu), “Popular and sunny, in the city as well as on the stage. With her disappears the soundtrack of a life made of simple, sincere, and communicative happiness ” (Jean Castex), “My lifelong friend” (Line Renaud), “A loyal and caring friend as much as a good-humored fairy, a generous show-girl full of talents” (Stéphane Bern), “A cousin from Belgium who gave lightness to life [des Français]» (Ministry of Culture), “An accomplished artist whose humor and joie de vivre represented so well this” belgitude “that we love so much” (the head of the Belgian government, Sophie Wilmès)…

Baroness Léonie Cooreman, ennobled in 2004, and who has a park in her name in her district of birth in Brussels, described herself above all as a go-getter, marathon glutton overbooked from the show. “I’m so busy that even when I’m dead, I won’t realize it.”

Guillaume Tion with AFP


Belgium restricts public life again

DThe Belgian Prime Minister sounded almost like John F. Kennedy when she introduced new measures against the resurgence of the corona virus on Monday. Everyone should ask, “What can I do personally to fight the virus and protect my loved ones,” said Sophie Wilmès. The urgent appeal was justified: the country has returned to normal so quickly and so much that rules have hardly been followed. The result soon followed. The number of infections has skyrocketed since the beginning of July. The virus reproduction rate is above one.

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

For Belgium, the EU infection control agency recorded 28 detected infections per 100,000 population in the first half of July. In the same period, there were only eight in Germany and 35 in Spain. The country is still a long way from Luxembourg (219), which is the only region in Central Europe to have the highest warning level “red”. But Flanders is already colored “orange”. Around half of the daily new infections were recently in the metropolis of Antwerp, where a number of restaurants and pubs did not comply with the protection requirements and quarantine rules were also broken. Now bars have to close at 11 p.m. After that, a curfew begins until six in the morning, the local authorities announced after an eight-hour crisis meeting on Monday evening. In the rest of the country, too, citizens have to cut back significantly.

Insistent appeal to the population: Belgian Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès in Brussels on Monday

The “social bubble”, “la bulle sociale”, has become the measure of freedom in recent months. In the end it was so big that hardly anyone took the restriction seriously. Each individual could have contacts with 15 changing people per week, without mouth protection and minimum social distance. As of Wednesday, this will be limited to five people per household; they must always be the same until the end of August. The country falls back to the first phase of easing in May. The permitted number of participants in public events is also halved: to 200 people outdoors, 100 in closed rooms, each with a mask requirement.

Crisis management with confusion

“It’s about avoiding general exit restrictions and not jeopardizing school resumption from September,” Prime Minister Wilmès said. She spoke of “very, very strong measures” with which the government implemented “one on one” the recommendations of the virologists. With public submissions, they had recently increased the pressure to act. The same thing had happened with the protective masks before: Only when more and more experts called for them did the federal government impose a general obligation to wear such masks when shopping and on other occasions. Wilmès was accused of emphasizing too much the regained freedom of citizens, although she had always admonished greater responsibility.

Nevertheless, the government’s crisis management has been anything but optimal in recent weeks. The introduction of a traffic light system with warning levels for European travel regions in mid-July caused confusion when many families had already left for the holidays. State-of-the-art travel is forbidden in most of Portugal, in two Spanish provinces (Lleida and Huesca) and to Leicester in England. Anyone returning from there must take a corona test and quarantine for two weeks. A form must also be completed for air, rail and bus travel. Tests and quarantine are recommended when traveling to EU countries and regions marked in yellow: Bulgaria, Croatia, Luxembourg, Romania, Sweden, other areas of the United Kingdom, Spain and Portugal as well as Austria, Poland and Slovenia.

Which countries can you still travel to? See the overview here.

Although significantly more Belgians spend their holidays on the North Sea coast than usual, there is great concern that infections will be introduced. So far it is planned that the schools will largely resume normal operations from the beginning of September. Wilmès already prepared the citizens that patience was needed: the infections would continue to increase before the new cuts in the numbers became apparent. For the liberal politician herself another moment of truth comes in September: she then has to face a vote of confidence in parliament.

After a month-long Corona break, the parties have resumed their attempts to form a stable parliamentary majority. The contract was given to the two opponents, who had probed and then rejected an alliance months ago: Bart de Wever from the Flemish nationalists and the Walloon social democrat Paul Magnette. If they can get together on the second try and get their parties involved, the days of Prime Minister Wilmès are numbered. Otherwise, the country is heading for another parliamentary election; the last one was in May 2019.