Anyone looking to cross the border between Belgium and the Netherlands will be met with a reminder that they should only be doing so for essential journeys, as part of a new push to halt the spread of the coronavirus between countries.
"Crossing the border? Only for essential journeys! That's how we protect each other" ("De grens over? Alleen noodzakelijke reizen! Zo beschermen we elkaar") read the new signs at the border crossings of Maastricht, Lanaken and Riemst.
The trailers were placed at the initiative of the mayors of the three border municipalities and are intended to warn commuters that a non-essential movement across the border is not allowed at the moment because of the health crisis.
"Although people generally adhere well to measures to limit the spread of the coronavirus, we still see border movements and wonder whether they are necessary. These signs are an additional warning," said Maastricht mayor Annemarie Penn-te Strake.
Travel for work, study, medical care, family visits or funerals is considered necessary.
Dutch authorities have said they will begin discouraging non-essential trips by Belgians, after noting that many were crossing the borders to escape coronavirus rules on non-essential activities in their hometowns, such as shopping.
Mayors in Zeeland, the southernmost province of Netherlands, have said they are “concerned” to see citizens from Belgium and Germany flock into their region with little awareness of local coronavirus measures.
“Not only us, but also our minister, are concerned because we are being overwhelmed in the border regions by citizens from other countries who are not aware of the measures here,” said Jan Lonink, mayor of Terneuzen, located around a dozen kilometres from the Belgian border.
The Brussels Times