De Lijn will be (almost) back to normal from 4 May

De Lijn will be (almost) back to normal from 4 May
. Credit: Belga.

Flemish transport company De Lijn will resume most of its normal timetable on 4 May, it said on Monday.

The services offered will be those of a normal school day, with the exception of the Antwerp trams, which will only resume their normal rhythm from 15 May. The night networks and the "Busphone" will also remain unavailable for the time being.

As a result of the measures to combat the spread of the coronavirus, De Lijn has seen a sharp fall in passenger numbers in recent weeks. In Antwerp, it was decided at the end of March to limit tram traffic to one passage every 15 to 30 minutes, partly due to absenteeism among drivers.

On Monday, the company says it has enough staff to increase its activity.

From 4 May, mouth masks will also be compulsory for passengers over the age of 12. De Lijn's inspectors will initially focus on raising awareness and providing information. If a driver is confronted with a traveller who refuses to wear a mask, he or she will be able to request police assistance via the dispatching centre.

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Drivers, inspectors and technicians will also receive masks, while the current security measures will remain in force (no front boarding, no tickets on sale with the driver, etc.).

De Lijn stores will also reopen on 11 May.

New Measures

The Belgian public transport companies De Lijn, STIB and SNCB have all said that they will strictly enforce the wearing of face masks from 4 May, despite the possible shortage as the authorities cannot provide them in time.

The wearing of face masks will become mandatory in all situations where the 1.5 metres social distance cannot be maintained, such as on public transport and on stations, from 4 May.

To make sure everyone complies with this measure, the National Security Council on Friday announced that the government would ensure that every citizen would be given “at least one standard fabric face mask, free of charge, that completely covers the mouth and nose” as well as two filters to put in the masks.

However, Federal Justice Minister Koen Geens, who is responsible for providing everyone with a mask, said that “it is not possible, in this short term, to roll out a national production, which provides enough masks for everyone.”

“It is the government that imposed the obligation to wear a face mask as of 4 May, so we assume that, as of 4 May, everyone who takes public transport, and in this case the train, will also have a face mask,” Bart Crols, spokesperson for the SNCB, told The Brussels Times.

“However, this does not have to be an actual mask, but can also be other means that cover and protect the nose and throat, such as a scarf,” he said, adding that the most important thing was to protect yourself and respect others.

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