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Police partly close entrance to Brussels’ Rue Neuve

Credit: Belga

The first day of reopening Belgium’s non-essential shops has caused long lines at some shops on the Brussels’ Rue Neuve, leading to one entrance to the street being closed.

“It is busy in the vicinity of certain shops, such as the Primark and C&A,” Ilse Van de Keere, spokesperson for the Brussels-Capital Ixelles police zone, told The Brussels Times. “But generally speaking, the street is not flooded with people.”

The entrance from the Place de la Monnaie to the Rue Neuve has been closed since 1:00 PM because it was becoming too crowded. People are asked to take a different route, according to Van de Keere, and reaching the shopping street via different entrances is still possible.

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“We try to direct people away from the crowds, to avoid long lines from getting even longer,” she said, adding that a counting system was set up so busy places can be monitored at all times.

The Rue Neuve has been split in two by barriers to make sure people all walk in the same direction, with markings on the floor, and stewards and police are present to monitor the situation.

While stewards and police are present to guide customers away from hotspots, the street has not been closed off yet and people have not been sent away.

Additionally, long queues are also forming at several stores on the Chaussée d’Ixelles, such as the Action and the Zeeman, but everything is “under control,” according to the mayor of Ixelles, Christos Doulkeridis.

“The police have been present since this morning and will be there all day,” he said. “Additional measures will be taken if necessary.”

According to trade federation Comeos, it is significantly busier than on an ordinary Tuesday, but the shops are not overcrowded.

“Everything is done with respect for the safety rules by both customers and staff,” spokesperson Hans Cardyn told the Belga news agency. “No problems have been reported anywhere.”

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times