"It is not very encouraging for a second phase," sighed Health Minister Maggie De Block on Monday, as she watched images of queues forming early Monday morning in front of large commercial signs.
The minister repeated her call to use "common sense" as the deconfinement continues. "What is so important that cannot wait a few days? The rule is that if you see too many people, you go home." I don't see why we have to sit in a parking lot for hours. Use your common sense: if you see too many people, go home," De Block explained.
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After a nearly two-month shutdown, all shops in Belgium were allowed to open again on Monday as part of the second phase (or "phase 1b") of the release of the containment.
Fast fashion and retail shops were one of the main draws for shoppers, with long lines spotted outside stores from clothing chains Zara, Primark or C&A. Ikea stores from across Belgium also drew customers in the dozens, with pictures shared by staff unions and users on social media showing people waiting to enter the stores in parking lots parcelled out with metal barriers and security tape.
When questioned, the trade unions did not observe any major overflow, but they did have fears for the days to come.
The Brussels Times