Delhaize: "No problem with homeless, if they don't disturb the shoppers"

The Belgian supermarket chain Delhaize has agreed to remove special panels fitted to one of its stores in Brussels that prevented people from sleeping in the store's doorways. The panels have been dubbed "anti-homeless panels", but the chain insists its action was directed against people disturbing the neighbourhood and not against the homeless as such.

The installation of the panels last week at a store in the Brussels borough of Else caused quite a stir with protests from local residents. Delhaize has now opted for a different system that can be removed at will.

The chain's spokesperson Roel Dekelver: "The measure didn't target the homeless, but was aimed at reducing disturbances that occurred frequently at the store. "As long as the homeless don't disturb the shoppers or staff, then their presence isn't a problem at all."

Delhaize points out that it supports initiatives to help the homeless by donating unsold food to several organisations.

The chain hopes that a permanent solution can be found for the disruption in Elsene. Roel Dekelver adds that so far homeless people haven't responded favourably to proposals from the local municipality.