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Belgium's coronavirus shutdown: Which shops are allowed to stay open?
Much like during the first wave of coronavirus earlier this year, non-essential stores in Belgium have been ordered to close from Monday 2 November. Which raises the question: what counts as an essential shop?
A ministerial decree confirms that the following types of stores are allowed to stay open - and the list is slightly longer than last time:
- Food shops - this includes supermarkets and convenience stores, but also more specialised traders such as cheesemongers and butchers
- Pet food stores
- Newsagents, bookshops and stationery stores
- Petrol stations and suppliers of fuel for heating
- Telecoms shops (by appointment only), but not stores only selling phone accessories
- Shops selling medical devices (but only for emergency appointments and repairs)
- DIY and building supplies stores
- Garden centres, florists and nurseries
- Shops selling fabrics and haberdashery items
- Car mechanics and bicycle shops, but only for maintenance and repairs
- Wholesalers whose transactions are purely business-to-business
Other non-essential stores must close for six weeks, until 13 December, but can still arrange online ordering with collection in-store. The measure will be reassessed on 1 December, based on the latest figures, to see whether a relaxation (or extension) is possible.
Another important difference compared with the first-wave shutdown of stores is new limits on what supermarkets and hypermarkets are allowed to sell.
From Monday you will see several aisles in bigger supermarkets closed off, because they are not allowed to sell products that would ordinarily be sold in other stores that have been ordered to close.
Supermarkets cannot therefore sell toys, kitchen utensils, clothing and shoes, furniture, mobile heaters, decorative items, multimedia and electronics, phone accessories, jewellery and sports goods.
However, items from the shut-down aisles can still be ordered online for delivery or collection, meaning the rules for supermarkets and hypermarkets are the same as for non-essential stores.