‘Common sense’ will prevent crowding when shops reopen, health minister says
Share article:
Share article:

‘Common sense’ will prevent crowding when shops reopen, health minister says

People walk past a retail chain's store front in Antwerp's high street. © Belga

There is no need for measures to prevent crowding on shopping streets as people’s common sense should ensure the reopening of shops in May goes smoothly, Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block said Monday.

In a radio interview on Radio 1, De Block said that she did not think it was necessary to regulate pedestrian traffic on popular and normally busy high streets once shops went back to business on 11 May.

“I’m not going to control traffic on the Meir,” De Block said, referring to the busiest shopping street in Belgium, located in downtown Antwerp.

Related News:

 

“I live opposite a butcher, people there have the discipline to keep their distance when queuing,” she said. “It doesn’t matter where you stand, a row is a row — that is simple, right? We must be pragmatic and use our common sense.”

De Block’s comments follow a decision by the National Security Council to allow all shops to reopen from 11 May.

The conditions under which the reopening would take place will be defined in concertation with the sector and will include guidelines to prevent crowding, according to an official statement.

The NSC’s call strays from the initial recommendation of scientists in the Group of Experts for an Exit Strategy (GEES), who in their recommendations for lifting the lockdown had said a majority of shops should remain closed until at least 18 May.

A recent relaxation of the lockdown measures saw home improvement shops allowed to reopen provided they observed social distancing rules. Additionally, certain wholesale shops were allowed to open, but only for professionals.

Strict social distancing rules and the mandatory use of face masks were one of the conditions shopkeepers must enforce in order to reopen.

Face masks would be helpful during the “new phase” that the country was now preparing to enter as confinement measures were progressively lifted, De Block said.

“In this case it can be helpful to protect those around you by wearing a face mask,” she said, adding that residents should use reusable tissue masks as surgical masks were reserved for health care workers who “really needed them.”

In the weeks before the pandemic fully hit Belgium, De Block was one of several government officials who said the use of a face mask in public was unnecessary for regular citizens.

As the pandemic picked up pace in Belgium, news emerged that De Block had failed to replace Belgium’s strategic stock of masks after they hit their expiration date, exacerbating a nationwide shortage of protective equipment.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Non-urgent care once again postponed in some hospitals
As the worsening coronavirus situation in Belgium is starting to take its toll on hospitals, it has been confirmed non-urgent care will once again be ...
Brussels Airport warns autumn holidaymakers to arrive early
Passengers leaving from Brussels Airport this autumn have been advised to factor in extra time to account for longer than normal check-in times and ...
27,000 Belgian taxpayers to pay more after incorrect tax break
About 27,000 taxpayers who wrongly received a tax reduction in the last three years due to an error by the tax administration will have to pay what ...
Wallonia launches first major survey for cyclist satisfaction
Following in the footsteps of France and Flanders, the Wallonia Region of Belgium is launching its first major satisfaction survey on municipal ...
After 5 rescues in 2 days, hundreds of migrants take shelter in Italy
After five rescues in less than two days, almost 400 migrants aboard the Geo Barents search and rescue ship in the Central Mediterranean, operated by ...
Belgian wind farm closed down to save migrants floating in sea
A wind farm near Zeebrugge had to be shut down on Wednesday morning as more than 25 migrants had been adrift in its vicinity off the Belgian coast ...
Cinemas will require Covid Safe Ticket from Friday
The Covid Safe Ticket (CST) will be required to attend cinemas across Belgium from Friday, which marks the start of the autumn holidays, the ...
Strong warnings issued ahead of climate change summit
New and updated climate commitments fall far short of what is needed to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, leaving the world on track for a ...
Disastrous year for Belgian beekeepers
Belgian beekeepers have experienced a disastrous year, with honey production 50 to 60 percent lower than last year due to heavy rainfall during ...
New measures for schools considered as situation becomes ‘untenable’
Belgium's various education partners met on Wednesday to discuss additional measures to implement in schools as the coronavirus situation worsens in ...
Belgium in Brief: Back To Masks
I really hope you didn't throw out all your masks. You'll be needing them again. Now I do appreciate that this isn't a huge change for ...
Belgium a climate slowcoach as EU reveals emissions progress
The European Union is on track to pass its first big climate test, according to new figures published this week. But Belgium has been singled out for ...