Belgian shops will not turn away international customers

Belgian shops will not turn away international customers
Credit: Belga

Shop owners will not turn away people from the Netherlands or Germany who come shopping in Belgium, despite several calls for them not to cross the border for non-essential reasons.

Everyone who follows the rules is welcome in Belgium's shopping cities, "whether they are Belgians, Dutch nationals, Germans, Chinese or Japanese people," Hans Cardyn of the Federation of Belgian Enterprises Comeos told the Dutch press bureau ANP.

"At the moment, there is no rule prohibiting other nationalities from shopping here. If a Dutchman wants to come and shop and he abides by the rules, we cannot deny him access to the shop," Cardyn said.

However, that this does not mean that Comeos is calling on the Dutch to come shopping across the border, against calls by the authorities to stay in one's home country, he clarified in Belgian media.

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According to current rules, people have to shop on their own, always wear a face mask, and can only stay in a store for a maximum of 30 minutes.

While the Dutch are "welcome," according to Cardyn, "the intention is not that Dutch people come here to shop en masse."

"The situation here today is very precarious, the coronavirus figures are rising again: it would be very unwise to launch this appeal now," he said.

On Thursday, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, Dutch Minister-President Mark Rutte and the Minister-President of the German state North Rhine-Westphalia called on their citizens to stay at home in a joint video.

In an uncharacteristic move, De Croo addressed viewers in English – not an official language in Belgium - to say that they should only cross the border "for essential travel, not for fun, and not to shop with friends and family."

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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