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Updated: Tips to keep busy in the coronavirus shutdown
With all public social activities curtailed for the next three weeks, businesses, museums, schools and event organisers are coming up with new ways to reach consumers – and people are finding productive new ways to pass the time. Here are some of our favourites so far.
Learn at home
Schools and universities are closed but the website fun.mooc has many online courses that are all free. More than 100 higher education institutions offer courses in various languages.
Flemish public broadcaster VRT is making a huge amount of educational programming available on its streaming platform. VRT’s streaming platform will offer a number of recent programmes in the areas of science, history, societal concerns and the economy. The dedicated children’s station Ketnet has adapted its programming to offer more of its educational choices. The Federation Wallonie-Bruxelles also has an e-learning platform for primary and secondary school children, using Moodle. Francophone and German TV station Arte has provided free access to its educational platform Educ’ARTE for pupils and teachers.
Visit a museum at home
Museums are closed but many offer virtual visits. Brussels Museums has launched the hashtag #MuseumatHome to centralise online initiatives by members on all social media during the Covid-19 crisis. Museums are invited to share virtual visits; tracing the history of their favourite works or showing their latest exhibitions. “This campaign wishes to encourage museums in Brussels, Belgium and why not across the world to continue to share their treasures online,” said the nonprofit on Monday.
Virtually-open museums are also listed at this website. They include three in Belgium – the Museum Vleeshuis and M HKA in Antwerp and MSK in Ghent. Or travel further afield to the Louvre, Anne Frank’s house or the New York Metropolitan.
Meanwhile, Mima museum on the canalside in Molenbeek needs your help. It has warned that it may not survive the shutdown, and has begun a crowdfunding appeal, including the chance to pre-pay for tickets that can be redeemed at the museum any time over the next year.
Support artistic projects at home
Culture Quarantaine is a Facebook platform for promoting culture during this period of isolation. Artists can publish their work to the group, including via live videos. Members of the public can watch, comment and pledge their support.
Watch lots of telly, make lots of phone calls, read books
For adults who might be spending a great deal of time indoors over the next few weeks, internet, mobile and digital TV providers have also stepped up. More movies and series are being offered for free. Telenet, Proximus, Base and Orange are offering free call minutes and extra mobile data for staying in touch with family and friends and streaming media. Prefer to read a book? Brussels bookstore Filigranes has begun offering home deliveries.
Enjoy your favourite restaurant at home
Restaurants must close - but they can do takeaway and delivery, so many owners are switching gears. Visit.Brussels has an extensive list of restaurants in the city that are offering delivery service during this period. Deliveroo has reported a sharp rise in orders - and in new requests from restaurants wanting to join the platform. At Pistolet Original, owner Valerie Lepla tells us: “Delivery has always been an important part of our business but now it has become our only business (with take away). Our Sablon shop is open with a specially organised delivery desk.”
Treat yourself to a cocktail at home
The Gecko on Place Saint-Géry is not only putting its entire food menu on takeaway, but also all its mixed drinks and cocktails.
Chip stands are allowed to remain open but if they have any sort of interior dining they can’t use those areas. A popular stand in Vilvoorde, ‘t Krokantje, has come up with an elaborate system which is explained in a video they have posted on Facebook. They have marked out two corridors, one for entering and one for exiting. Only three people are allowed inside at a time and only one person per order. The corridors are drawn with numbered areas to keep everyone separated.
Go to the cinema at home
Film distributors have reached a deal with most of the major video-on-demand platforms to make the latest cinema releases available in people's homes, including Voo and Proximus Pickx. The first films - including the Belgian film Jumbo by Zoe Wittock, were released on Wednesday and cost €7.99 to rent.
The 42nd edition of the documentary film festival Le Cinéma du Réel was cancelled on Friday, but thanks to Mediapart you can see the 13 selected films of the New Works by Young Filmmakers category, and you can even vote for your favorite.
Antwerp cinemas Zed, Lumière and Cartoon's have all put new films that should be playing in their cinemas right now online instead. They all let you watch any film currently in release for €8. Do remember that all the films will come with Dutch subtitles.
Get kids interacting from home
Flanders' scouts groups are collaborating on Sunday activities via Facebook since they can't get together in real life. They post exercises for kids of all ages. Everyone does them at once and sends photos or videos of them doing it or the result. It's a big social party, just without viruses.
See a play at home
You can enjoy recordings of several recent Théâtre National performances, free of charge at this website. Otherwise, search YouTube for ‘live theatre performance’ and you’ll be rewarded with a very extensive list of current or recent full live performances of plays and musicals from Broadway and elsewhere - everything from Legally Blond to Avenue Q to Les Miz to Hedwig and the Angry Inch to Evita.
Help a neighbour in need
Do you know someone who could use some help with shopping or other errands? Local Facebook groups are a good starting point – or check the website covid-solidarity.org.
The hashtag #Vlaanderehelpt (Flanders Helps) is bringing people together on social media. Some people are hanging notices in their windows saying that they can pick up groceries or run other errands for the elderly, while others are volunteering to take care of people's kids if they have to go to work. The website WeTasker is also instrumental in getting groceries to those who can't leave home.
The Red Cross is urging people to keep on giving blood, despite measures to restrict social contacts because of the coronavirus. It would be a disaster if the country were to run short of blood, putting an additional strain on hospitals at a time when they are increasingly busy with coronavirus cases.
Learn a language at home
Brulingua.brussels offers free online lessons in French, Dutch, English and German for all levels.
Get fit at home
Friskis&Svettis, known for its big open-air workouts in parks, is putting video workout sessions on its YouTube channel. Meanwhile, Pop Up Yoga Concepts, a Brussels-based yoga school, will offer its classes online and will be video-streaming "Corona Home Work-Outs" on its Facebook page, free of charge. The Brussels Art & Pole School (BAP) has been offering pole dancing courses for everyone (and they mean everyone) as a fun way to stay fit since 2016. Their studio is closed, but they have created a Pole Blog for the duration of the crisis which will feature new content every evening at about 18.00. There will be videos, tutorials, contests and more.
Need more ideas? Or share your own
The citizens’ initiative Solidair.brussels has been set up to provide a platform for people to share ideas on how to make the most of this difficult times. “Brussels residents do not lack ideas to be united in all circumstances,” the site says. “Let's build this site together and send your proposals via the suggestion box.” The site is in French and Dutch, and is gradually being translated into English.