The number of people testing positive for Covid 19 and the number of patients admitted to hospital continues to rise and the economic fallout of the corona crisis becomes more pronounced. Unemployment is up 8% versus the same period last year and the government has seen fiscal revenue fall by almost 10 billion euro. This is a 17% fall in revenue. It is not hard to find an explanation. We have seen a fall in revenue from all types of taxation that are connected to the economy and how it is performing. When shops, restaurants and bars are closed people consume less so there is less income from VAT. In addition to this companies have been given the possibility of delaying part of their tax payments. Whilst Belgium is facing all these challenges the country broke its own standing record for the longest political crisis and longest period without an elected government last Sunday. It has been 592 days since the previous government, led by former Prime Minister Charles Michel, collapsed over inter-party tensions on migration in December 2018. Despite all of this when I wander around downtown Ghent it almost feels like normal. Am I getting used to the new normal? – Grasbrug, Ghent, Belgium
We should not ‘delude’ ourselves over the notion that we are in the all-clear. It isn’t all over! In Belgium the number of people that tested positive for the coronavirus between 22 and 28 July shows that an average of 448 people/day tested positive for the virus. This is more than double the average of 219 people/day that tested positive during the week between 15 and 21 July. I don’t think it’s ill-judged to claim the mode of everyday living that we have built for ourselves over the past months will go on for a while, at least until a vaccine becomes widely available. We must endure! We shouldn’t see the restriction that have been imposed on us as an intermission in our lives but more as a new reality. Unfortunately, a lot of people find it difficult to behave responsibly and adhere to the rules of the new normal. Today’s picture is one that I took in the city center of Ghent tow days ago. If we want to avoid a second lockdown, we will need to reduce the people in our social bubble to an absolute minimum and get more serious about social distancing and wearing face masks. The people pictured have lots of fun but you definitely can question if they behave responsible – Ajuinlei, Ghent, Belgium
As expected the Belgian government introduced additional restrictions to prevent the rapid and “worrying” increase in coronavirus infections from becoming a full-blown second wave. From tomorrow, and for at least the next four weeks, social bubbles will be reduced to a maximum of 5 fixed people per household. As of tomorrow, also shopping needs tobe done alone and everyone will be allowed to stay in a shop for a maximum of 30 minutes, telework is again strongly advised and one is required to register and leave contact details in wellness centers, sports classes and restaurants and pubs. The good news is that Janssen Pharmaceutica, the Antwerp based division of the American multinational Johnson & Johnson. has started testing on humans a vaccine that it hopes will offer protection against the novel coronavirus. The tests will be carried out both here in Belgium and in the United States. The original plan was to commence testing on humans in September. However, research on the development of the vaccine is running ahead of schedule. At the risk of being accused of behaving irresponsibly and out of touch with the fact that a merciless virus is killing people around the world we decided to continue to enjoy long hikes in the Black Forest - Haslachschlucht, Black Forest, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
The virus is gaining ground across Europe. In Belgium, the rolling average for the daily number of coronavirus cases in the seven days between 16 and 22 July now stands at 255 a day. This compares with a daily average of only 149 in the previous seven day observation period. Figures for 22 July show 534 people tested positive for coronavirus on that day. Belgium’s National Security Council is meeting today and will most likely announce stricter measures to contain the spread of the virus. Tucked away in a small village deep in the Black Forest we feel relatively safe, however, I’m afraid that the beauty of the region is lulling us into a false sense of security - Triberg, Black Forest, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Flanders glows orange on the map presented by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. The colour indicates over twenty cases of coronavirus per 100,000 head of population during the past fortnight. Experts keep emphasizing that contact between people needs to be reduced if Belgium wants to avoid a second wave of Coronavirus infections. As a result of the call for action from experts Belgium’s National Security Council will meet to assess the situation and hopefully take more firm actions tomorrow. In Germany, the Robert Koch Institute, which is in charge of the fight against infectious diseases pointed to a sharp daily increase in new infections in certain parts of the country. Amidst a tsunami of ominous news, we were visiting the Triberg Falls. They aren’t the Niagara Falls but still they are known as Germany’s highest waterfalls. The Gutach River feeds the seven-tiered falls, which drop a total of 163m - Triberg, Black Forest, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
Things are going south in a hurry in Belgium. At first the surge in the number of infections could still be explained by local outbreaks, it now seems that the figures are going up across the country. Since last week, the average infection rate has increased considerably. The reproduction number has also risen above 1 since last week. This indicates that the epidemic is flaring up again. As a result, Belgium’s Security Council will tighten the coronavirus measures again i.e. face masks in all busy places, registering at restaurants and pubs, etc. Although we will be returning from Germany, a country labelled as green, we also will need to complete a form before we arrive back in Belgium. Anyhow, we still have a couple of days to enjoy the deeply carved valleys, the thick woodlands, the timber farm houses and wispy waterfalls. At display is the Fahler Wasserfall, a little beautiful waterfall near Feldberg, the highest mountain in the Black Forest - Feldberg, Black Forest, Baden-Württemberg, Germany
For several weeks now, the inter-federal health institute Sciensano has been producing figures based on the average of a seven-day period, instead of daily totals. Yesterday, the average daily number of new Covid infections during the past week has climbed to 127, which is 46 percent up on the week. Sciensano reported 261 new infection on one day yesterday morning, the highest number since May. In the light of the recent coronavirus figures showing no reversal of the last ten days’ trend of increased figures for new infections, prime minister Sophie Wilmès has called together the members of the national security council for a meeting tomorrow to consider the government’s next move. We need to prepare ourselves mentally for scaling back a number of measures… Do stricter measures mean that bars and restaurants will be closed again? - Oude Vismijn, Ghent, Belgium
It took some time and a lot of back-and-forth between health experts and Belgium’s government, but finally all noses are pointing in the same direction: wearing a face mask has been made mandatory in shops, and some other indoor spaces, from today. People that fail to respect the new rules face criminal proceedings. Today’s picture was taken in August 2015 at 80 Days of Summer. At the event international and national photographers showcased their work in Ghent’s most beautiful monuments. Jacques Sonck’s Archetypes were on display in the Belfry. Aside from all noses looking in the same direction I liked how the bald guy in the background reflects the two guys in the photo above him – Ghent, Belgium.
The 177th edition of Ghent Festivities is cancelled - Normally every summer the city goes wild for 10 days. Ghent Festivities is a sparkling cultural festival with numerous performances of various national and international artists: a unique event in Europe, thanks to a variety of performances, exhibitions, fairs, parades and so much more. 2020 will be the first time since the World War 1 that Ghent Festivities will not take place. The picture was taken during the 2015 festivities – Ghent, Belgium
Belgian infection rates have stabilised, but we are clearly not out of the woods yet. Belgium and most EU countries have opened their borders for tourists, but the new lockdown in Spain is giving cause for concern. Federal Public Health Minister Maggie De Block gave instructions that people who return to Belgium from Catalonia need to ask their GP for a test and should go into quarantine pending the test results. This is a picture of Barcelona in better times… I’m hoping things get better and the green flag is raised by the time my next meetings are scheduled early September – Barceloneta, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
"Photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place. It has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with how you see them."
I just like to take pictures, I just push the button. I never worked in the darkroom, I never studied photography or journalism; I’m just a passionate photographer.
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