People who cross the border into the Netherlands and Luxembourg to go shopping, drinking and dining are displaying “antisocial behaviour,” according to Flemish minister-president Jan Jambon.
This afternoon the town of Sluis, just across the border in the Dutch province of Zeeland, has closed its own bars and restaurants as a reaction to the hundreds of Belgians who have crossed the border since the shutdown was imposed on Friday at midnight.
Earlier, the mayor of Turnhout said he was writing to the mayors of Tilburg, Breda and Eindhoven in the southern part of the Netherlands to ask them to bring their own rules into line with Belgium’s, in order to prevent what he called “horeca-tourism”.
But since then the exodus has continued, with Belgians taking advantage of the Sunday shopping in Maastricht, having Sunday lunch in Sluis and even, in one case reported by the owner of a bar on the border with the Grand-Duchy, crossing into Luxembourg for drinks and food.
Federal health minister Maggie De Block was unsparing with her criticism.
“A virus does not respect a country’ frontiers,” she said.
“It’s such a shame to do this. These people are at risk of being infected, even when they’re in the Netherlands. There, too, they have the same crisis as we have.”
Flemish minister-president Jambon is also mayor of Brasschaat, a town very close to the border. “It’s antisocial behaviour,” he said.
“Going into a cafe in the Netherlands has the same effect as doing it here. There are no frontiers for a virus. I am asking everyone to have some social conscience, and I insist. People have to keep their distance wherever people gather, here and across the border.”
Leopold Lippens, mayor of Knokke, took the unilateral decision to shut down his town before the federal government made the measure national. He now feels developments have vindicated his decision.
“I’m at the border with Sluis. There were 10,000 people there eating and drinking, 96% or 98% of them Belgians, because they can afford it,” he told Bel-RTL radio.
“It’s an unimaginable scandal. They have no idea of the risk they are bringing back with them – it’s very real. These are people with no sense of civic responsibility.”