Illustration shows a cordoned-off section in a supermarekt in Foetz displaying goods deemed "non-essential". Starting Monday such sections will be reopened. Photo: Delano
Easing of restrictions, extension of private security use in capital and plane crash in Indonesia. Delano’s breakfast briefing for Monday.
The number of people testing positive for coronavirus in Luxembourg remains stable, with 104 new cases detected on Saturday and 136 on Friday. Over the two days, there were six deaths, bringing the death toll to 530. In total 93 people were being treated in the country’s hospitals, of which 21 were in intensive care units.
Luxembourg will this week receive 1,200 doses of the Moderna vaccine, which the European Commission approved last week. In total, EU vaccine suppliers have guaranteed doses for one million people in the grand duchy. Meanwhile, the health minister said there will be enough Pfizer/BioNTech doses to vaccinate 36,000 by the end of March, with more to follow. After vaccinating healthcare workers, and care home residents and their staff, the next phase will target the over 75s. As of Friday, 1,400 people had received the first vaccine dose. Following our rolling coverage here.
Luxembourg eases restrictions & adds funding
Lockdown restrictions will be eased today (Monday) with the most visible changes being the reopening of so-called “non-essential” shops and the curfew pushed back from 9pm to 11pm. Restaurants, bars and cafés remain closed, however. RTL reports that some sports centres have preferred to remain closed because the restrictions are too rigid to be applicable straight away. The raft of changes impacting business, culture and sports apply until 31 January, after a new law was adopted by Luxembourg’s parliament.
On Friday, the Luxembourg government approved a new bill to introduce a one-time, non-refundable aid of €3,000-€4,000 for the self-employed who are financially impacted by pandemic measures. Chd.lu
Slow recovery for events sector
Events sector operators were braced for a rough 2021. Charles Schroeder, president of the Luxembourg Event Association, wrote in the interest group’s first report that members did not expect a return to pre-crisis levels until 2023. The platform represents 120 companies and 3,000 jobs in Luxembourg. Delano
Islamophobia incidents stabilise
Over a quarter of people polled witnessed an Islamophobic incident in 2019, compared with 35% the year before, the Islamaphobia observatory reports. Direct experiences of Islamophobia remained stable at around 17% for all three years. While it said that this trend “remains very encouraging for the future,” there was a marked contrast in France, where there has been an increase in cases, thought to be in response to the killing of a history teacher by an Islamic extremist. Delano
Private security patrol extension
Luxembourg City could extend the use of private security teams to monitor Bonnevoie. The controversial announcement from CSV MP Lauren Mosar via the Luxemburger Wort, will further heighten mounting tensions over how the capital handles its security. Internal security minister Henri Kox (déi Gréng) last November denounced the use of private security firms to conduct activities associated with police as illegal. Last week, justice minister Sam Tanson (déi gréng) said a reform of the law outlining the role of security agents was needed.
If US vice president Mike Pence doesn’t oust President Donald Trump by invoking the 25th amendment, the Democrats will go ahead with impeachment proceedings. House speaker Nancy Pelosi laid clear the strategy in a letter to colleagues on Sunday. She said that House leaders would work swiftly to pass legislation on Monday to remove Trump if the amendment is invoked. If it is blocked by Republicans, which is expected, the house will convene for a full vote on Tuesday. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote in a blog post at the weekend that last week’s siege of the US Capitol was a “wake-up call for all democracy advocates” The Guardian, New York Times, Reuters.
App stores suspend Parler
Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc have suspended Parler, from their App store and web hosting service. Parler is a social networking service popular with right-leaning social media users. Sunday’s announcement comes after Alphabet Google announced a suspension of the app from its store on Friday. The firms say it has not taken adequate measures to prevent the spread of posts inciting violence. The New York Times described the app as renewing “a debate about who holds power over online speech.” Reuters
Sriwijaya crash investigation
Investigations are underway into the cause of Saturday’s Sriwijaya aircraft crash in the Java Sea a few minutes after takeoff from Jakarta. Air Flight 182, a Boeing 737-500, was flown by former Indonesian Air Force pilot Captain Afwan and carried 62 people, including six active crew. On Sunday divers retrieved items from the plane. Authorities didn’t seem to expect survivors. New York Times, Reuters
Baffling brexit regs
Leading business groups have called on the UK government to discuss the “baffling” array of post-Brexit rules and regulations, they say threaten export trade to the EU. Manufacturing and trade organisations met with cabinet office minister Michael Gove last week. One leading figure involved in the talks described the new rule book as a “complete shitshow”. On Friday, Gove accepted there would be “significant additional disruption” at UK borders as a result of Brexit customs changes in the coming weeks. The Guardian
The snow in Spain
Spain’s government will on Monday send convoys with covid-19 vaccines and food supplies to areas isolated by Storm Filomena, which brought the heaviest snowfall in decades to central Spain. So far, four people have died as a result of the blizzard. According to The Guardian, hospital staff in Madrid walked for hours to relieve colleagues, who are already stretched by a high coronavirus caseload. Reuters, The Guardian.
Champs-Elysées garden project
The Champs-Elysées, Paris’ iconic avenue that leads to the Arc de Triomphe roundabout, is to be transformed into a €250m garden. According to Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo, the avenue which is known for its cafés, luxury shops and high-end car sales showrooms, will become an “extraordinary garden”. The Guardian
Luxembourg parliament is expected to adopt reports on a series of bills on Monday, including the issuance of equity or debt securities. They will discuss a special report on the sale of land located in economic activity zones which belongs to the state.
On Tuesday, MPs will examine a bill for a system of automatic indexation of family allowance amounts to be applied retroactively to 1 January 2019. It proposes to create an additional allowance for larger families.
On Wednesday, they will examine the 2020 youth ombudsman report, while Thursday will be dominated by housing matters and Nato defence planning. Chd.lu