"Only take a window seat on trains": many questions remain
One of the corona restrictions announced after yesterday's meeting of the different governments in Belgium, was that rail passengers can only occupy a window seat, but many questions remain.
First of all, the measure only applies in the weekends and on school holidays. It will come into force on 3 April, and it only concerns trains going to a "tourist destination". The measure is specifically aimed at avoiding crowded trains to places like the Belgian coast or the Ardennes with the Easter holidays coming up on 3 April. An exemption will be made for children under 12 years travelling with their parents.
Rail passengers are left with many questions. The most important one: how can you know beforehand whether you will have a seat? Reservations will not be possible, the Belgian Rail Company NMBS has already said. Travellers will have to check their Move Safe app to see how busy certain trains could become via colour codes.
A reservation system will not be put in place
But this does not give you any certainty, and may leave many people in the cold. "What about travellers who can't get on a train and who are left on the platform in big numbers? How will police and security teams handle that", asks Stefan Stynen of the passengers' organisation TreinTramBus. He wonders if that will be more corona proof.
Another questions concerns the "tourist destinations". Which places will it include exactly? Other people are talking of a discrimination of rail passengers, as people can still come to the coast if they take their car. "Apparently it is no problem if they appear in big numbers in tourist hotspots if they take a car", they argue.
Mayors at the coast are happy
The Mayors of the coastal municipalities are happy with the restriction. They were (are) afraid that day trippers would flock to the coast, causing social distancing problems in crowded hotspots. This has been the case on some occasions this year, like in Ostend.