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Circulation plans developed for Brussels’ busiest shopping areas

18:46 05/05/2020

Crowd control barriers will be popping up on Rue Neuve this week in anticipation of shoppers returning to the street next Monday. That is the first day that non-food shops will be open in Belgium since 18 March when measures to control the spread of the coronavirus were intensified.

On Rue Neuve, Brussels’s main shopping street (pictured), barriers will create one-way lanes for pedestrians. Specific points will be designated where customers can cross from one side to the other. “That will allow people to be able to enter the street from either end,” Aurore Borrens, a spokesperson for Brussels-City councillor for the economy Fabian Maingain (Défi), told Bruzz.

The municipality is also supplying the smaller retailers with hand gel and facemasks. “It’s impossible to provide all of the businesses with these, but we can help the smaller shops,” explained Borrens.

While city employees will be stationed at either end of Rue Neuve to remind shoppers to keep their distance from each other, the municipality is not planning to monitor the number of people in the street – or anywhere else – at any given time. “We don’t want to limit people’s sense of freedom, so we’re counting on them to use their common sense when it comes to social distancing,” said Borrens.

Different outlets, different measures

Shopping centres in the capital are taking similar measures. Westland Shopping Center in Anderlecht is also working with a one-way system and shutting seven of its 10 entryways. While it will not limit the number of shoppers who enter, it does plan to hand out facemasks to those who don’t have one on.

Over at Docks Bruxsel, the decision was made to not set up one-way circulation so that shoppers don’t have to pass a bunch of outlets they don’t plan to visit to get to the one they do. Management thinks this will stop people from popping into shops on impulse.

Again, Docks will not count the number of customers entering the shopping centre, but many of its individual retailers are bringing in extra staff to control the numbers of customers on their own premises.

Wherever they are headed, shoppers are advised to wear a facemask and use hand disinfectant during their shopping visits. Most retailers will have disinfectant available.

Photo ©Benoit Doppagne/BELGA

Written by Lisa Bradshaw