De Croo wants the Dutch to stay out of Belgium, Rutte agrees
Tuesday, 15 December 2020
Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has stressed to his Dutch counterpart Mark Rutte that he does not want people to cross the border to shop now that the Netherlands has gone into the latest coronavirus fighting lockdown.
By all accounts, the Netherlands agrees, with the Dutch government advising citizens not to cross the border, a request that Alexander De Croo hopes will be followed.
Speaking by phone on Tuesday morning De Croo and Rutte, among other things to discuss the epidemiological situation that has prompted the Netherlands to introduce a 5-week lockdown. The Belgian took the opportunity to remind that recreational shopping is “forbidden” in our country, his cabinet told Belga news agency.
This warning comes as some border municipalities express fears of an influx of Dutch consumers following the closure of “non-essential” shops in the Netherlands. These same shops have recently reopened in Belgium, albeit with strict rules governing shopping. These include a blanket ban on not shopping alone, and a time limit of 30 minutes per shop.
Speaking on Monday, Belgian virologist Steven Van Gucht too warned not to cross the Belgian border for non-essential shopping. After the opposite phenomenon happened in November, with many Belgians ignoring the National Crisis Centre’s advice against going to shop in the Netherlands, Van Gucht took to Dutch news agency ANP to urge against border crossings.
Van Gucht told people to “go to your local shop, order online,” underlining that “it’s the people that spread the coronavirus.”
Despite not opting to follow the Netherlands – and Germany – in tightening measures, Belgium’s increasing infections have seen health minister Frank Vandenbroucke raise the fact that strict new measures could be on the table.
In Belgium, the Consultative Committee will meet on Friday to evaluate the coronavirus figures and assess the epidemiological situation.