Belgium will not close the border with the Netherlands for the time being. This is ‘such a far-reaching measure’ that it would require at least consultation with the noorderburen, says the Belgian Ministry of the Interior. ‘But the situation and with it the insights can change quickly,’ a spokesman acknowledges.
Belgium is now in a better position to control the coronavirus than the Netherlands, which has forced society to close its doors almost completely. Now that the shops in the Netherlands are closed, the Dutch may move to Belgium, the Belgian authorities fear. They breed in ways to prevent that.
But the border does not close” at the moment”, says a spokesman for minister Annelies. “That’s not the issue.’Belgium would not simply take such a draconian measure, which conflicts with the agreed free movement of persons within Europe. Moreover, it is not yet prohibited for Belgians to travel to the Netherlands, nor is it, although both countries strongly discourage such border traffic.
In Germany, too, the non-essential shops are closed. The Belgian ministers who are leading the fight against the coronacrisis will meet again on Friday afternoon for their crisis meeting. They will therefore discuss the possible influx of Dutch people.
If you are travelling from the Netherlands to Belgium, you must fill out a form indicating whether you or she should be quarantined. From Friday, the Belgian police are going to check more closely whether travellers actually do so. But that only happens with ordinary alcohol and other controls, says the Home Office. There will be no border controls, as was the case in the spring.
Mayor Gaston Van Tichelt of the Belgian border municipality of Essen asks the Dutch who come shopping to adhere strictly to The Coronas rules. “He who does not respect the rules risks a fine,” says Van Tichelt in a statement.
The municipality points out that Essen is “a kind of Peninsula” in the Netherlands with only one Belgian neighbour and four Dutch neighbours: the West Brabant municipalities Woensdrecht, Roosendaal, Rucphen and Zundert. Now that the non-essential shops in the Netherlands have to close for at least five weeks because of the large number of coronabetes, Essen takes into account a large influx from the Netherlands. ‘When too many people cross the border from the north, this can lead to great crowds and queues at the shops,’ says Van Tichelt.
The mayor says that the border remains open, but that every visitor to Essen must abide by the rules of COVID prevention. This includes wearing a mask in the Essen shopping area. People are also allowed to stay in a store for a maximum of half an hour.