Gridlock in Antwerp, police call on motorists to avoid the area

There were long tailbacks in and around the city of Antwerp today as many day-trippers wanted to go shopping, including many Dutchmen. Dutch tourists also find their way to the city of Ghent, where 80 percent of the overnight bookings come from Dutch people. 

While a complete lockdown is put in place in the Netherlands, the rules are less strict in Belgium - at least the hospitality sector is still open. The Dutch PM Mark Rutte had called on his people to avoid crossing the border, but this was of no avail. The influx of Dutch day-trippers in Antwerp was huge, which triggered long tailbacks. 

Antwerp police called on people to avoid the area, sending motorists back to carpool places or other transport hubs just outside the city in an attempt to avoid long jams. But it didn't help. The VRT's traffic specialist Hajo Beeckman was talking of a gridlock in a tweet. 

Belgium is popular with Dutch tourists for the moment. This can also be seen in Ghent, where they account for 80 percent of overnight bookings. The hotels in Ghent are enjoying an occupation rate of 95 percent until tomorrow. After Wednesday, the occupation rate is expected to drop to 25 percent as many Dutch tourists prefer to celebrate the end of the year at home. 

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