Virologist calls for controlled access to Antwerp’s busiest shopping street during “Shopping Sundays”

The virologist Marc Van Ranst has said that access to Antwerp’s main shopping street the Meir will need to be controlled during the four Shopping Sundays that are to take place in Antwerp during December. Speaking on VRT Radio 2 Antwerp’s morning magazine programme ‘Start je dag’, Professor Van Ranst said “You should view a Shopping Sunday on the Meir as an event. Without checks on the number of shoppers present things will go wrong”. 

The city authorities in Antwerp are allowing shops in the commercial heart of the city to open every Sunday during December. The Mayor of Antwerp Bart De Wever (nationalist) believes that Shopping Sundays in the city will be corona-proof. On the Meir shoppers will be obliged to follow a designated route that will make them walk in one direction on one side of the street and in the opposite direction on the other side. Face coverings will be mandatory as will social distancing of 1.5 metres.

Professor Van Ranst told Radio 2 that. "In theory Shopping Sundays are a good idea because you spread the number of shoppers over an extra day”. Nevertheless, he advises Mayors to think hard about how they can guarantee shoppers’ safety.

As regards the Meir in Antwerp Professor Van Ranst believes that checks need to be in place to limit the number of shoppers to corona safe levels.

"Really you should consider Shopping Sundays like these as events. Without checks on the number of people present we can already predict that things will get out of hand. Maybe the events sector can help devise a system to control access”, Marc Van Ranst said.

“You need to prevent there being 101 ways to get onto the Meir. If this can’t be done the Mayor will have to ban Shopping Sundays”. 

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