Belgium's Crisis Centre has urged people to do their Christmas shopping online as much as possible, ahead of the reopening of non-essential shops across the country tomorrow.
December is traditionally a busy month in the shopping streets, but that is something that absolutely must be avoided now, according to Crisis Centre spokesperson Yves Stevens.
"Even though shops will reopen from tomorrow, online shopping is and remains a good and safe alternative, that should certainly be considered," he said during a press conference on Monday.
Handling the reopening safely is "a collective responsibility" that everyone can and must play their part in, according to Stevens.
- Belgium's coronavirus figures drop further, 906 patients in intensive care
- What are the rules when Belgium's shops reopen?
- Coronavirus: Authorities warn against crowds at end-of-year festivals
"Traders and local authorities are working hard to make this happen in complete safety, but everyone has to help as much as they can," he said, adding that shopping online remains the safest option.
"We understand that everyone feels the need to go out and do something, but we cannot yet afford to troop together in shopping streets," Stevens said.
If online shopping is not an option, Belgians are urged not to wait until the very last moment to do their shopping in person. "Try to go at quiet moments, if it is absolutely necessary that you go in person," he said.
Additionally, Stevens urged each individual shopper to always respect the necessary social distance and wear a mask, both inside and outside the shops. "If it is too busy, come back later," he said, adding that each customer may only be present in a shop for a maximum of 30 minutes.
"If we really want to start 2021 on a hopeful note, we must not give the virus a chance to strike back," Stevens said. "We are on the right track, but above all, we must not lose patience now."
The Brussels Times