Brussels launches colour-coded tool to limit crowding in Rue Neuve

Brussels launches colour-coded tool to limit crowding in Rue Neuve

The City of Brussels has launched a colour-coded system in an effort to prevent overcrowding in the centre following a decision to reopen non-essential shops just ahead of the holiday shopping season.

Taking a page from the federal government, authorities in Brussels 1000 have launched a system which uses colour-codes to reflect real-time traffic in Rue Neuve, a pedestrian and popular high street in the centre.

Through a dedicated website, the city provides shoppers with real-time traffic data on how crowded the street is at any given time, in an effort to encourage them to come at quieter times.

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The three-tier code alternates from green, orange and red, with visitors encouraged to come when the metre is on green, while orange means that visitors should exercise caution while shopping.

If the meter becomes red, police can decide to close off the main access to the street from the Place de la Monnaie, with shoppers only allowed to enter by the smaller side streets that pour into Rue Neuve.

"Screens set up in different areas around the street will also broadcast in real-time the same colour-codes so that passers-by can more effectively organise their errands," city officials told BX1.

The launch of the crowding prevention tool is the most recent move by the City of Brussels to prevent contagion risks amid a last-minute shopping frenzy, after all non-essential shops were allowed to reopen on 1 December by the federal government.

On day 1 of the reopening of shops, residents turned up in large numbers, causing long lines outside the retail and fashion chains that line Rue Neuve and even prompting police to partly shut down access to the street.

It also comes after the arrival of the Christmas tree to the city centre drew residents in droves to the Grand-Place, forcing police to intervene to manage the crowds.

On Monday, following the crowding incident around the Christmas tree, authorities issued a ban on eating, drinking and smoking in the Grand-Place, which was later compounded by a regional blanket ban on drinking alcohol on all public places in the Brussels-Capital Region.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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