The announcement by the federal government that garden centres and do-it-yourself stores are allowed to reopen from Saturday in light of the new coronavirus (Covid-19), has caused some issues as not all unions believe that safety can be guaranteed.
The government announced on Wednesday, after the National Security Council, that the stores would be able to reopen on Saturday, but it is unclear under what conditions, according to Delphine Latawiec, who is responsible for the trade sector at the CNE union. “What is important is that the issue of security is resolved before any reopening happens,” said Latawiec.
On Thursday morning, a meeting was held at DIY-store Brico to reassure the employees, during which the management announced which measures would be taken.
They are similar to the ones in the food sector, “but delegates have checked on the ground and nothing is ready,” said Jalil Bourhidane, responsible for commerce at CNE. Work stoppages are not ruled out “if safety is not guaranteed at the reopening,” he added.
Gamma, another DIY store chain, announced that it is preparing for a general reopening of its stores by Monday, with some stores probably already opening on Saturday. The management will check store by store that security measures can be respected.
A maximum of 20 customers will be allowed in a Gamma store at the same time and they will be required to use a cart. Plexiglass screens will also be installed at the checkouts. If necessary, security guards will monitor controlled access at the entrance.
“The question is not so much the opening date, but rather that everything is optimal in terms of security,” Latawiec said, adding that the deadline on Saturday “is very short,” and leaves little time for families, including single-parent families, who will have to organise themselves “in fourth gear” for childcare, especially in a context of school closures.
Additionally, the clarification that the reopening is not an obligation does not help, as the companies will have to decide for themselves. In companies without a trade union structure, the CNE is afraid that economic logic will take precedence over safety.
“Staff are very, very worried. We will monitor the situation hour by hour,” Bourhidane said.
The Brussels Times