In response to the rising number of Covid-19 cases, the Belgian government has decided to adopt strict rules when it comes to shopping. 'Fun shopping' is banned: store visits need to be done with a face mask, alone and for maximum half an hour.
Exit plan halted
Prime minister Sophie Wilmès started her presentation with the words "The exit plan is halted", the start of a series of further restrictions on Belgian public life. For retailers, there was some good and some bad news.
Most strikingly, all shopping outings are limited to 30 minutes (except in the case of an appointment in, say, a furniture store) and must be done alone. Two exceptions to the latter are children under 12 and people needing assistance.
On the bright side, there is no renewed closing of non-essential stores and even the discount period - in which stores can get rid of their excess stock at higher discounts than is normally allowed - can go on. However, many retailers will argue that this was not a 'nice to have', but an absolute necessity after the horrors of the second quarter.
On top of the national restrictions, the lower levels (regions, provinces, cities) can add local measures. Especially in Antwerp, currently the worst-hit city in Belgium, they are expected to become even more severe.