Luxembourg News: 27 November 2009

Local news for the week ending 27 November 2009:

Health minister Mars di Bartolomeo says he’s considering extending the national smoking ban from restaurants to include bars and discos also. He said the government wanted to afford better protection to non-smokers who worked there. Mr Bartolomeo said the legislation would be brought into force next year and that objections would be ignored. He added that since a smoking ban in restaurants and workplaces was introduced in 2004, the number of smokers in the country had declined.

A young thief managed to lock himself in the supermarket he was robbing on Monday evening. The incident took place in the German town of Irrel, just over the border from Rosport. Having got into the supermarket through the main door, he allowed it to close behind him. He was then unable to open the inner entrance door and became stuck in the lobby of the store. Vigilant residents noticed him stuck there and called the police, who arrested him.

Thieves made off with two trucks from the Aire de Berchem on Monday night. The trucks, which came from Poland, were loaded with computers and monitors. Both drivers were in the shop at the service station when their trucks disappeared. They were both last seen headed for France. It’s the second time in recent months that a pair of Polish trucks have been taken from a Luxembourg service area.

Later in the week……

There has been a strong reaction to health minister Mars di Bartolomeo’s bombshell announcement on Monday that the government intends to ban smoking in bars and discos. Local newspapers reported record levels of below the line comment on their websites as readers debated the effect of a smoking ban. The association of bar and restaurant owners said the smoking was yet another burden on their business which are already struggling. But Mr di Bartolomeo remains combative saying the smoking ban was hardly unexpected and that he wouldn’t be doing his job as health minister if he didn’t try to protect the health of employees, regardless of the economic consequences.

Over four thousand people have applied for dual nationality since the law was changed at the start of the year to allow it. Just over 3000 have been granted Luxembourgish citizenship while still retaining that of their former homeland. One third of the applications have come from citizens of Portugal. Many of the applicants come from neighbouring countries. And citizens of the nations of the former Yugoslavia make up the other main significant group of applicants.

Esch sur Alzette’s stylish new footbridge is finally open to the public. It was inaugurated on Tuesday, a couple of months behind schedule. The 3½ million euro project allows pedestrians and cyclists to cross the railway tracks from the town to reach the Galgebierg park. Its 100m long and has a striking avante garde design, incorporating a useful roof. Esch residents have not had a direct link to the Galgebierg by foot for 4 decades, and its hoped the new bridge can brighten the atmosphere around Esch Railway station.

There was a co-ordinated border control throughout the night of Wednesday into Thursday this week. Police and customs officers from France, Luxembourg and Belgium all took part. The object of the action was to try and trap cross border burglars. But in the event, they picked up a series of drunk drivers, confiscated one telescopic cosh, some cannabis and hashish, and a bag of magic mushrooms. There has been an increase in the number of burglaries recently, particularly in the south of the Grand Duchy.

The Christmas markets open in Luxembourg city today [Thursday]. The largest is in the Place d’Armes and will be open from 10 o’clock in the morning until 8 o’clock at night. The smaller St Nicolas market will also be open on the Place de Paris at the same time. Details of all the fun and games for the festive season laid on by the council are on the website -– although if you’re at work might want to turn the sound off on your computer because the site is ridiculously noisy.