Dutch people can still come shopping, Belgian border mayor says
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Dutch people can still come shopping, Belgian border mayor says

Credit: Belga

Dutch people are still welcome to come shopping in Belgium, as long as they respect the Belgian measures, according to the mayor of border town Essen.

Contradicting separate appeals by Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo and virologist Steven Van Gucht for the Dutch to stay on their side of the border now that the Netherlands has closed its shops, Essen mayor Gaston Van Tichelt still welcomes them.

“I expect a lot of Dutch people to cross the border,” he said on Flemish radio on Tuesday morning. “Our neighbouring [Dutch] municipality of Roosendaal alone has 77,000 inhabitants. That’s comparable to a city the size of Mechelen.”

“I do have the impression that they will come down to shop with us, and we should not forbid them from doing so,” Van Tichelt added.

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For the time being, the borders will remain open, and there is no reason to close them either, according to him.

“It is not appropriate to close borders. People work across the border, or have animals or family members living there,” Van Tichelt said. “They must be able to continue to cross that border.”

He stressed that he is not encouraging the Dutch to go to Essen, but he will not forbid it, as long as they follow the Belgian coronavirus measures.

“They will also have to wear a facemask, come shopping on their own and do so for a maximum of half an hour per shop,” he said, adding that the measure count for everyone.

On Monday, Van Gucht warned the Dutch not to cross the Belgian border for non-essential shopping as the Netherlands went into lockdown.

In Belgium’s Limburg province, which borders the Netherlands, the governor will meet with the different mayors on Tuesday evening to discuss how the extra influx of shoppers can be handled.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times