Belgians shop because of dense shops here: We cant have that

This weekend it was busy in the shopping streets of several cities. Several measures were taken by mayors. Chairman of the Security Council Hubert Bruls also expects the coming weekends due to Saint Nicholas and Christmas crowds. According to Bruls, it is especially important to do something about the admissibility of Belgian day trips.

โ€œ In the southern cities, such as Eindhoven, Breda and Maastricht, we see many Belgian guests. We can‘t have those with us. They shop in the Netherlands because in Belgium the unnecessary shops are closed,โ€ says Bruls, who is also mayor of Nijmegen. Also in Rotterdam there were many cars with Belgian license plates on display this weekend.

These measures for Belgian stores will remain strict in the coming period. The non-essential shops will probably reopen on 1 December, but Belgians can only enter there on their own and stay for a maximum of 30 minutes. That will certainly be a specific point in the discussions with the Cabinet tomorrow, says Bruls. โ€œOnly we, as mayors, cannot do much about it: this is really a matter of cabinet and something between two Member States. But there must certainly be agreements about it.โ€

Which approach should then be chosen, such as closing the border with Belgium, Bruls cannot yet say. โ€œWe should talk about that tomorrow.โ€

According to Bruls, not only Belgian guests are a point of attention. โ€œIn the coming weeks, there are things we need to pay close attention to. What happened this weekend in cities like Eindhoven and Rotterdam you want to avoid. If this avoidance fails, we must intervene.โ€

Closure of the retail trade could be an option as far as he is concerned if it remains busy and uncontrollable in the shopping streets. โ€œI do not rule out that you will have to agree on something to get together as mayors. But now, after this weekend, that is not a necessity.โ€

Technically, closing the retail trade for enforcement is the simplest, but other interests are also playing, says Bruls. โ€œYou want society to function as much as possible. People want to go out, that’s why they go into the city center. If you close the stores, you don‘t take away that need.โ€

If it’s up to Bruls, the call for more scattered shopping becomes even clearer. โ€œPeople have to do their Christmas and Christmas shopping on weekdays, and absolutely no longer go to the city centre on Saturdays or Sundays.โ€

Counting people in the shopping streets is also an option. To prevent queues at the shops, where the maximum number of visitors already apply, from getting out of control. There are already visitor registration systems in some cities. โ€œThat‘s why Apeldoorn and Leiden were able to say so quickly that it was too busy.โ€

That’s how busy it was this weekend:

According to Bruls, crowding is not a problem in itself. โ€œWhen it‘s too busy somewhere, it’s a problem.โ€ Also, there are not many infections to be counted back to shopping malls, says the chairman and mayor. โ€œThe shopping streets are often in the open air. It‘s not for nothing that they chose to keep the shops open in March.โ€

According to Bruls, the crowds were manageable this weekend. If you look at the whole country, you can see that the various calls to stay away from busy shopping areas, combined with the measures from the retail trade, have helped, he says. โ€œIn many places it remained manageable, but in a number of places it was too busy. Colleagues intervened there.โ€

The fact that it was manageable in many places is mainly due to cooperation between municipalities, enforcers and retailers, says Bruls. Yesterday, shops had to close the doors in several cities. โ€œHowever, that has nothing to do with the shopkeepers, who did nothing wrong. If you have to blame someone, it’s not the shopkeepers but the people who look up this crowds.โ€