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Coronavirus shopping: What changes in Belgium from 11 May

07:05 11/05/2020

Shops throughout Belgium are allowed to reopen this Monday - but there are several new rules you need to be aware of, and disruption on Brussels public transport due to a sudden strike.

Access to shops will be limited to a maximum of one customer per 10m² of retail space, with a maximum shopping time of 30 minutes per store. Wearing a mask is highly recommended.

Belgium's King Philippe and Brussels mayor Philippe Close visited several independent retailers in the city centre on Sunday, as they prepared their stores for the Monday reopening. "I am sure it will be fine," the king said. "Shops are taking all the measures that they need to. I am hopeful and I am enthusiastic."

Brussels public transport operator Stib was due to increase its levels of service from Monday, with 90% of metros and 85% of buses and trams running as normal.

However, a sudden strike called on Monday morning is affecting several services. Tram 7 and several bus routes are not running. Other tram and bus lines running a reduced service. The metro is operating normally. Check Stib on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.

Rue Neuve has been split down the middle with barriers. At the end of each block, mini-roundabouts allow pedestrians to switch to the other side of the street.

Signs at each end of Brussels' busiest shopping street explain the rules: walk on the right-hand side, follow staff instructions, stay away from other shoppers, avoid touching products that you do not plan to buy, use the disinfectant dispensers at the entrance to each shop and pay by card.

Temporary signs have also been put up in shopping centres, indicating safe distances and where to queue for each store.

You should shop alone, unless you have to accompany a child. In some exceptional circumstances, shopping with another person will be allowed. Economy minister Nathalie Muylle said it would be "possible for large purchases, by appointment only, for example buying a kitchen, a piece of furniture or a car".

Businesses that involve close physical contact with each customer - for example beauty salons, hairdressers and tatoo parlours - must remain closed until further notice. Fitness centres, casinos and betting shops are also not yet allowed to reopen.

Food trucks can return to the streets, in their usual spots. Outdoor markets are still not authorised - although there is talk of a potential 18 May reopening, to be discussed later this week at Belgium's national security council. However, individual food stalls may be allowed on a case-by-case basis by local mayors, in areas where access to a supermarket is difficult.

As for cafes and restaurants, we will have to wait until no earlier than 8 June.

Written by The Bulletin


Frank Lee

You know things are returning to normal when people go on strike again.
I don't quite get what Stib drivers want. They are completely isolated, and yet don't feel safe enough? Maybe they should work as a cashier in a supermarket or as an ICU nurse for a day, see how safe they feel...

May 11, 2020 18:17