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“Keep Right” as Antwerp’s commercial heart prepares for store reopenings

In the countdown to Monday 11 May, when non-essential shops are supposed to reopen, the city of Antwerp has worked out new rules and regs for people visiting the Meir, the city’s erstwhile bustling commercial centre.

The new rules are intended to ensure shopping is safe and well-organised during the corona emergency.

One of the main rules is to instruct pedestrians to “Keep Right”.  “We will use arrows on the ground to encourage people to keep right in shopping streets as much as possible” says city cabinet member Koen Kennis. “If everybody proceeds in the same direction there will not be any oncoming traffic and it will be easier to keep the 1.5m social distancing required.”

Antwerp is eager to prevent long queues.

“We don’t expect it will be extremely busy from the word ‘Go’, but we have asked shops to organise queues along the right hand side of stores, just like the direction of walking.  If it’s really too busy shop staff may ask customers to return later.”

In narrower streets like the Nationalestraat and the Kammenstraat it will be more difficult to pass by queuing customers safely.  The city authorities are looking into axing parking spaces to create more space.

Antwerp is considering bringing in Portaloos too.

“Pubs and cafés are not open.  Extra toilet facilities are needed.  The Shopping Center Stadsfeestzaal and Grand Bazar are making their loos available.  If extra lavatory facilities are needed, we will bring in Portaloos” says Mr Kennis.

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