Brussels will limit access and ban eating, drinking and smoking in the central Grand-Place after residents packed the main square during the set-up of holiday decorations at the weekend.
The arrival of the traditional Christmas tree drew people in the droves to the square on Saturday, with many also cramming the adjacent narrow streets and alleyways.
Local authorities (Brussels 1000) said that smoking, drinking or eating will be banned in the square in an effort to more strictly ensure that visitors are wearing a face mask at all times, even when taking pictures in front of the pine tree, according to the Belga news agency.
In a meeting on Monday, officials also said that the police will filter access and may even shut down all access to its historic main square in the event of crowding.
With shops set to reopen from Tuesday, the City of Brussels will also implement crowd controls on Rue Neuve, a busy high street lined with department stores and retail chains.
The popular shopping street will be split in two with barriers and consumers will be required to follow one-way navigation stickers and signs to move up and down the street, in a set-up reminiscent of the first shop reopening after the first lockdown.
Stewards and police officers will be present to manage the crowds in the street and will monitor and communicate on real-time affluence in postings at the entry of the streets.
City officials also said that police would have the liberty shut down some streets completely if necessary and called on residents to respect the sanitary measures during their holiday shopping.
The Brussels Times