Coronavirus: Only half a store opens on Dutch/Belgian border

Coronavirus: Only half a store opens on Dutch/Belgian border

The different measures taken by Belgium and the Netherlands to contain the further spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19) have led to only half a store being allowed to open on the border.

In the Dutch municipality of Baarle-Nassau, which is the site of a complicated borderline between Belgium and the Netherlands, the different measures taken by both countries have led to some confusion. The Belgian federal government has closed all non-essential stores, but the Dutch government has not, only requiring all shops to take measures to enforce social distancing.

However, in the municipality of Baarle-Nassau, closely linked to the exclaves of the Belgian Baarle-Hertog municipality, the border between the countries sometimes splits streets in half, crosses buildings and even runs through some stores.

Due to the different policies, one of the Zeeman stores on the border, with one half of it on Belgian territory, and the other in the Netherlands, is only half open to customers.

Translation: "Absurd situations on the Belgium-Netherlands border. Vandaag-reporter Sander Gillis showed it."

"The square metres [of the store] in Belgium just follow the Belgian measures. The square metres in the Netherlands, follow the Dutch measures," said Marjon De Hoon, mayor of the Dutch municipality of Baarle-Nassau, to VRT.

If customers need something from the store that lies in the Belgian side of the store "that is not possible at the moment, unfortunately," De Hoon said.

The store has put up caution tape in the middle of the store to indicate the border. "I needed underwear, but that's in the Belgian part of the store, so I could not get it," a Dutch customer told VRT.

The clothing chain received a request from Belgium to close the shop, in line with the Belgian coronavirus measures, but because the Baarle-Nassau store is subject to Dutch law, the Zeeman does not necessarily have to close, a Zeeman spokesperson told a regional Dutch newspaper.

After consultation with the municipality of Baarle-Nassau, it was decided to close the Belgian half of the shop. "We show our solidarity with Belgium by keeping our shop closed on that side," the spokesperson added.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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