A clothes shop straddling the Dutch-Belgian border found itself half-open and half-shut as the two countries pursued different policies to contain the coronavirus pandemic, reports our Brussels Correspondent James Crisp.
The Zeeman store in Dutch Baarle-Nassau, where the border splits streets in half, divided its shop with tape and kept the Dutch side open after Belgium closed all non-essential shops to fight the spread of the virus.
Dutch shoppers were unable to buy underwear, for example, because the pants and knickers were kept in Baarle-Hertog, on the Belgian side of the border.
The Netherlands has not closed all non-essential shops but requires them to enforce social distancing measures.
“The square metres [of the store] in Belgium just follow the Belgian measures. The square metres in the Netherlands, follow the Dutch measures,” Marjon De Hoon, mayor of Baarle-Nassau said.
“I needed underwear, but that’s in the Belgian part of the store, so I could not get it,” a Dutch customer told the VRT broadcaster.
The Belgian authorities asked Zeeman to close the store but, because it falls under Dutch law, they are powerless to force the shop to shut entirely. The shop eventually decided to close entirely.
“We show our solidarity with Belgium by keeping our shop closed on that side,” a Zeeman spokesperson said.