For the second time this year, Belgium has decided to impose a severe lockdown in the fight against the coronavirus. All non-essential stores will remain closed for six weeks from Monday 2 November.
This was decided after a meeting of the conciliation committee this afternoon. The decision was not unexpected: several experts and politicians had insisted on it over the last few days and neighbouring France had already decided a very strict lockdown earlier this week. Strict action is necessary now that the corona figures are getting completely out of hand. Contacts must be avoided as much as possible.
Even though there are few infestations in the shops, shopping generates too much traffic, bringing many people together. As was the case last spring, when the vast majority of retail ultimately remained closed for eight weeks, all "non-essential" stores will therefore close again. This also applies to contact professions such as hairdressers or beauticians. Only food stores, supermarkets, pharmacies, newsagents, pet food shops and banks will therefore remain open. ‘Click & collect' will still be allowed.
The restrictions will again have a huge economic impact on the retail sector. Especially as the timing could hardly be worse: the autumn is crucial for retailers. November traditionally sees various bargain festivals, such as Singles Day and Black Friday. This is followed by Sinterklaas and Christmas. People will probably buy their presents online this year, and the major international platforms in particular will benefit from this.
Trade federation Comeos had emphasized earlier this week that a new lockdown was "unthinkable". However, several retailers also indicated that due to the continuing bad news, the passage and sales had fallen so much in recent days, that it is often no longer worth keeping the business open. This morning, Proximus was the first retailer to report that it would be closing its shops of its own accord as of Monday.