As Brussels settles into the first day of the countrywide shutdown, an unusual calm has fallen across the city.
From the European district – now lying empty – to downtown tourist sites, Brussels is nearly deserted.
This drastic change is the result of the latest “far-reaching measures” implemented from noon on Wednesday in Belgium to contain the further spread of the new coronavirus (Covid-19). The measures are having a great impact on public transport.
Unlike stricter measures imposed in Spain’s coronavirus lockdown, outdoor physical activity remains allowed and is even “recommended,” provided that it is done alone, with living mates or with “one friend,” according to the prime minister’s website.
“Outings of families living under the same roof are authorised but it is important to keep a reasonable distance between each other,” the statement read.
Under the rules, all non-essential shops must close, A move which has left the downtown area of the city displaying more closed shutters than anything else.
Places that remain open – food shops, banks, pharmacies, animal food stores, and newsstands – do so under strict social distancing measures, which many advertise before entering the store.
Stores and traders who do not comply with the imposed measures can be prosecuted, and the police will draw up an official report. However, the intention is to only do this for persistent offenders.
These lockdown measures are – for now – until 5 April, For a full explanation of the measures in place, click here.
Jules Johnston The Brussels Times
Correction: a previous version of this story said book stores were open