About security and life in Brussels today

-An expat point of view-

Brussels attacks were a stroke for all the people building their lives here, they saw their freedom threatened, their quiet life suddenly corrupted. But terrorist bombs not only strike people in the city but also many expats that from home saw how plans of starting a new life at the heart of Europe fade away. I arrived here 5 days after the terrorist attacks . As scared and insecure as everyone reading newspapers or watching the news would be.
The reason I write this is that I have appreciated that is only from the inside where you can see how people try to recover the confidence between soldiers and flowers, and its only here, living in the city, where you can feel its rhythm going back again to its accelerate pulse.

Obviously, it is more difficult to see this reality for the outsiders that have to picture themselves dealing with the news of belgian security forces questioned and the perspective of moving to a shuted down city.
So, if you are concerned about your decision of coming to Brussels, we encourage you to read through this text and check which were the security measures taken and how is the current situation.
The measures taken started on Tuesday 22 March 2016, when the OCAM (Coordination Unit for Threat Assessment) immediately raised the level of threat to 4 on a scale of 4, which meant that the threat was serious and imminent.
Also, exceptional measures were directly taken to ensure safety of all and emergency services for the victims. After that, on Thursday March 24, the OCAM re-evaluated the situation and the level of risk was reduced to level 3 nationwide, meaning that the threat is serious, possible and likely and that all the resources of the various authorities to limit the terrorist threat on the territory are still mobilized.
Today level 3 remains in Belgium, but all the metro stations are open and working this weekend since and also the departure hall of Zaventem has been partially opened and will be entirely operating by June.

Belgian soldiers patrol in the arrival hall at Midi railway station in Brussels
Belgian soldiers patrol in the arrival hall at Midi railway station in Brussels/Reuters

-What you will find today-

Train Stations:
Random controls at the entrance of the 11 biggest train stations in the country. It is also good to know that until April 30th there will be limited access in:

1.Brussels-Midi, access to the station is only possible via place Horta, Rue de France and Avenue Fonsny.
2.Brussels-Central, access to the station is only possible via Carrefour de l’Europe, Madeleine and Putterij.
3.Brussels-Nord, access to the station is only possible via Boulevard Simon Bolivar, Rue du progrès, Rogier and rue d’Aerschot.
4.Brussels-Luxembourg, access to the station is only possible via rue de Trèves.
5.Brussels-Schuman, access to the station is only possible via the entry/exit Berlaymont and residence Palace.
6.Antwerpen-Centraal, access to the station is only possible via Pelikaanstraat, Vestingstraat and De Keyserlei.
7.The access to stations Merode, Delta and Brussels-West is restricted.

You can go to the website: http://www.belgianrail.be/fr


Public Transportation:
You will find military and police presence in the subway and on the surface network, also random controls are also organized in the subway stations and in the main connexion points of the city.
Although the city is still very well connected could be that travelers find that some of the bus routes are deviated. But the line that goes from the city to the airport work normally, and all the metro stations have been already opened.
You can consult their website for further information: http://www.stib-mivb.be/index.htm?l=fr


Brussels Airport:
For departures
: Extra security controls other are taking place; this may cause a little retard on flights. First, there’s a car and passenger screening on the access road. In the temporary departure hall an additional police control and ID and boarding pass control will take place. Only travelers can access the temporary departure halls.
Since 1st May the departure hall has been partially opened and the airport has established a wide information system to inform passengers to which hall they have to go to do the check in! (Indeed, If you are flying today you can consult it here: http://www.brusselsairport.be/en/paxinfo/halls1n2/ )

For arrivals: Depends if you are coming from an Schengen destination or not. In the first case, nothing changes: You come from gates A, you follow the exit indication and the luggage’s reclaim, and go out via the arrivals hall.
Non-Schengen destination will arrive in Pier B.  Follow the usual way out: after the border controls you will arrive in the reclaim area and go out via the arrivals hall.

Also, you can visit their website: www.brusselsairport.be

Furthermore, Belgian government has established a DG Crisis Centre website: www.centredecrise.be and a telephone number  +32 (0)78 15 17 71 (accessible from 8am to 10 pm Brussels Time)