Provincial Governor hopes that Antwerp's “Shopping Sunday” is rained off
Just a day before the lockdown measures are due to come into force, a Shopping Sunday is taking place in Antwerp. Normally the vast majority of shops in Antwerp City Centre are closed on Sundays. However, on the first Sunday of each month and every Sunday in December shops on the Meir and the other shopping streets in the centre of Antwerp are allowed to open. With all shops selling “non-essential” goods due to close as part of the lockdown measures from tomorrow and given the large number of shoppers in the country’s High Streets and shopping malls on Saturday questions have been raised as to whether it is responsible to allow the Shopping Sunday to go ahead.
One person that believes that this isn’t the case is the Governor of Antwerp Province Cathy Berx (Christian democrat). Ms Berx told VRT News that she feels that allowing the Shopping Sunday to go ahead is “incomprehensible” and “even quite cynical”.
"I can only hope that if it isn’t made impossible by the Mayor, people are wise enough to stay away”. The Flemish Interior Affairs Minister Bart Somers (liberal) has also said that he hopes that people will stay away from this and other Shopping Sundays that are taking place in other towns and cities
Antwerp’s main shopping street the Meir was one of the places that were extremely busy on Saturday and the fear is that these scenes will be repeated today.
"This is not a good idea. I feel that it is even a little cynical and incomprehensible. Today is All Saints’ Day, the day on which we honour the dead. This makes it strange that a Shopping Sunday is being organised at the hight of a pandemic. If large numbers of people go shopping, you can be sure that this will lead to more new infections”, Governor Berx told VRT News.
On Saturday the Mayor of Anwerp Bart De Wever posted a tweet in which he mentioned the Shopping Sunday and called on people to stick to the COVID-prevention rules.
"I was in touch with Mayor De Wever yesterday. He told me a there will be a large police presence and that action will be taken as soon as it become apparent that there are too many people in one place. That’s something at least. But it would be much better is people just didn’t come into town”, Ms Berx said.
The Governor of Antwerp Province added that Shopping Sundays are in fact really events “And event’s are banned”.
But could the Mayor of Antwerp Bart De Wever not better have cancelled the Shopping Sunday?
"It would have been wise not to have any Shopping Sundays for the moment. I can only hope that it will rain long and hard so that people change their plans”, Ms Berx said.