New coronavirus measures will cost affected sectors €1 billion
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New coronavirus measures will cost affected sectors €1 billion

Credit: Belga

The “semi-lockdown” measures announced by the Consultative Committee on Wednesday will result in a loss of €1 billion in four weeks for fashion, interior decoration, electronics and sports shops, trade federation Comeos said on Friday in La Libre Belgique.

Some 35,000 workers in these stores will be made temporarily unemployed in April, the sectoral federation added.

“We have still not received any information on the details of this lockdown, which does not say its name and which starts on Saturday morning,” said Comeos CEO Dominique Michel.

Michel does not understand the decision to impose an appointment for all customers and to limit number to 50, regardless of the size of the shop.

He fears that the smallest stores, “insufficiently equipped to manage the logistics of reservations, will skip the next four weeks,” while in some large stores, “this will mean one person for 300 or 400 m2”.

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Comeos put forward some initial figures. “Last September, 11% of non-food businesses mentioned a probable or very probable bankruptcy. In November, the figure was 17%. According to our analysis, after this third lockdown, they will be nearly 20%. This means that some 13,100 jobs are at risk,” the federation said.

Initially, the Consultative Committee was set to meet again on Friday, but that meeting was brought forward to Wednesday due to the rising coronavirus figures.

The virus has led to 854,608 cases in Belgium since the pandemic began, and to 22,816 deaths.

For a cheat sheet on the rules for what Prime Minister Alexander De Croo has called an “Easter pause,” click here.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times