Comeos, the sector federation for small retailers, said the measures gave their members more opportunity for restocking shop shelves.
“It’s not all hands on deck to keep the supermarkets stocked, with enough staff who can work in safe conditions,” the federation said. “With the measures the government has decided today, we can put extra helping hands to work.”
Comeos called on the government to turn its attention now to non-food retailers and food and drinks outlets that have been closed the longest and remain closed now.
“We have to help them to survive and then do everything to make a restart possible.”
The employers’ organisation, the Federation of Belgian Enterprise (FEB/VBO), welcomed the measures announced, but called for measures now to be taken to help “all those companies who are carrying on their businesses in difficult circumstances. They are confronted in the same way with staff shortages related to absenteeism.”
The FEB also asked the government to make it clear as possible what will happen when the current period of confinement runs out a week from today.
“Companies that are busy making plans for the coming weeks need to know ideally at the start of the new week what they’re dealing with.”
The liberal trade union CGSLB-ACLVB, the smallest of the three main unions, recognised the measures are only meant to be temporary, but criticised them as “not balanced”.
“This Easter deal takes no account of the wishes of hundreds of thousands of workers now on temporary unemployment, nor with the request for financial compensation for all those working who are keeping their employers afloat,” the union said.
Among other criticisms, the union also pointed out that the introduction of tax-free overtime was in conflict with EU rules on total working hours, and that no discussions with worker representatives took place regarding the introduction of new recruitment methods. Why, for example, were only those on temporary unemployment allowed to take up jobs without losing their benefits, while the full-time unemployed were ignored?