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What’s life like in Brussels right now?

Professionals moving to Brussels in the coming weeks will want to know what to expect with the reopening of the country. After a somewhat strict lockdown the deconfinement process started in May and is entering an increasingly relaxed status. Since the 15th of June, Belgium along with its European neighbors opened its borders to EU and Schengen passport holders. Life in Brussels is slowly going back to “normal”.

With the steady improvement of the pandemic numbers, the kingdom is entering Phase 4 of the relaxation of its rules, called “deconfinement” as of 1 July.

1 July: What to expect

People in Brussels today continue to wear masks when in public transport in accordance with the rules, mask wearing in the street is less frequent. The atmosphere is increasingly relaxed, but outdoor groups of more than 10 people are not allowed so some parks have seen an increase in oversight from park wardens. Safety distances in more crowded areas are enforced.

Restaurants

Restaurant terraces are full as are cafés and bars. Night life is active however all venues have to close at 1am. Night clubs remain closed. There are news reports of youth gathering to on the Place Flagey for spontaneous parties – so the confidence is back for the younger segment of the population.

 

Shopping Rules

Shops are relaxing rules and everything is open. Shopping times are no longer limited and you can shop with a friend. Safety measures are in place to ensure distancing can be respected within the shop. Masks are recommended but not obligatory inside shops.

Gyms

Wellness centers and gyms are open since the beginning of June with protocols in place for hygiene. Pools are also open which is handy as Brussels is experiencing a significant heatwave!

Entertainment

Cinemas and indoor events can host up to 200 people. Museums, galleries and music halls have gradually reopened. Outdoor festivals are allowed with a maximum attendance of 400 people. This means that most music festivals join the infamous Tomorrowland in rescheduling their festivals for 2021.

Administration

People moving to Belgium from abroad often need to register at the local town hall, called the Maison Communale/Gemeente Huis. There are also other administrative procedures for health care, registering for parking etc. New registrants can no longer walk in to take care of these services. They must make an appointment. To do this at the town hall for Morton Place residents you should follow this link: https://irisbox.irisnet.be/irisbox/appointment

 

Moving forward: long live bicycles!

The most exciting consequence of the pandemic has been the acceleration of the mobility plans in Brussels. Increasing the biking lanes and the go slow and no traffic areas is needed as traffic is congested and people are still cautious about taking public transport. Our neighborhoods in Saint Gilles and Chatelain will benefit from this plan, allowing our residents to bike easily  from home to the European Quarter on dedicated bike lanes.

 

What’s happening at Morton Place

Most of our residents have  gone back to their offices spending only a portion of their time working from home. Weekend trips have also started again. We continue to get requests from people outside of Belgium who are moving to Brussels for professional reasons. We are organising video tours and trying to make sure everyone gets to chat with one resident during the tour. There is enthusiasm and confidence in future residents’ voices and we feel confident that we will be able to host future Morton Place residents in comfort and security. We look forward to hosting new residents at Morton Place over the course of the summer!

Home Office Morton Place Chatelain Coliving

Coliving means we are a Household

Morton Place coliving houses went into lockdown, or “confinement” as of the beginning of March. We follow the rules of Belgian Ministry of Health.  In Brussels, the rules are to limit social contact to one’s household, working from home if possible, with only one outing a day for shopping or exercise. The restrictions started mid-month. We quickly had to move in new residents to their rooms so they became part of the coliving household.  We then decided to suspend any new move ins until after the lifting of the confinement, to minimize the exposure.

Safety first

Our priority is ensuring our coliving communities stay safe. We have increased supplies of the essentials such as extra hand soap, disinfectants etc. In addition to following the official rules, our residents have elected to establish their own coliving house rules. Ideas include blocking the doors open of common areas to minimise contact points, and creating a disinfection rota to spray all frequently touched surfaces more frequently. We also have a protocol and medical supplies in case anyone falls ill, luckily we have not had to use them.

Wifi + Privacy = Community Happiness

Apart from the physical wellbeing of our residents we have also considered the general wellbeing of our coliving house members. With each of our residents having a private bathroom, one major source of cross contamination is eliminated. With 6-8 people in each house working from home, our investment in a corporate grade LAN ensures smooth wifi connections for all. The Netflix account is used for housewide movie and pizza nights. Our in-house copies of “Settlers of Catan” and “Cards against Humanity” are dusted off. You might expect international residents to quickly set off for “home” in such a situation. Almost all of our residents stayed in place, even the residents from Belgium, testifying to the strong community bonds in our coliving houses as well as the comfort. Our residents celebrated Easter together, with colivers sharing the traditions of their home countries. We celebrated a birthday with champagne and ice cream delivered via Deliveroo and have had countless bbq’s in our gardens.

 

Feedback from our coliving houses

We checked in with our coliving communities on a weekly basis. Our new residents who quickly moved in on the day of the lockdown told us “it was actually a good occasion to get to know everybody, in normal times we wouldn’t all be at the house so much.” Our coliving homes have fewer residents per house then your typical house share with a lot of space for hanging out while still allowing for some privacy. Our extra tv rooms with their soft carpets and large flat screen TV’s have been converted to exercise rooms. The home offices, libraries and gaming tables are providing a good space to hang out without being stuck in the bedroom. “We are having a lot of fun while leaving each other enough space.”

Next Steps for coliving at Morton Place

This has been an intense period for all of us, but the bonds of our coliving residents have never been stronger. We are now establishing what our protocols will be for the next phase of coliving life with Covid-19 and are happy we have the trust of our residents to ensure their safety and well being. We will be aiming for a phased move in of new residents, increased housekeeping and discontinuing the use of our guest rooms until we have a better understanding of the post lock down period. Meanwhile, it appears confinement in Belgium is set to be lifted in May and we look forward to welcoming new members of our coliving community at Morton Place. If you are coming to Brussels and would like to explore coliving,  check out our availability here.