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Do You Speak Corona? The German-speaking community of Belgium is represented in the crisis team to combat the pandemic

Although Belgium has been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to longstanding good practices the German-speaking community did not have to suffer more than other citizens.

They were involved from the beginning in the decisionmaking process. Belgium has set up a crisis unit to combat coronavirus, which includes the Prime Ministers of the Belgian Communities. This means that the Prime Minister of the German-speaking Community (DG), Oliver Paasch, also represents the German-speaking Belgian minority in the crisis team. The crisis unit determines all measures for Belgium. Accordingly, the measures within the DG's remit are strictly based on these measures.They also work closely with the other regions of Belgium in this respect, Mr Fabrice Maassen, a representative of ProDG informed FUEN.

The German-speaking community lives in a very rural region. For this reason it is much easier for them to keep the social distancing or the minimum distance of 1.5 m.

“The German speaking Belgians have so far kept to the measures with great discipline. The specific problem is the border closure. Our situation is special in that our region is located on the German-Belgian and Luxembourg-Belgian borders. The closures of the borders are severely restricting our daily life” – said Mr Maassen. For now, Belgian borders remain close, but not for long: according to plans, they will open on June 15, or even earlier, and there are already exceptions made for essential travel.

At least the 60,000 strong community does not have to face the same challenges other minorities across Europe do. Information about the coronavirus in Belgium is translated into German. There is a slight delay, as first the information will be published by official governmental sites in French and Dutch. 1-2 days later the information is published in German.

Useful links:

During April 2020 FUEN has conducted a survey entitled Do You Speak Corona? on the situation of European minorities during the pandemic. The online questionnaire focused on the availability of information related to COVID-19 in general, healthcare information related to the outbreak, the existence of an emergency hotline operated in minority language and the availability of online education in minority language. The short report on the results is here and you can download the whole report in PDF format by clicking here.

This series of case studies is the continuation of the Do You Speak Corona? project.

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