Officials, shopkeepers meet to ‘discourage’ Christmas shopping

Christmas lights in Amsterdam. Photo:
Christmas lights in Amsterdam. Photo:

Justice minister Ferd Grapperhaus and economic affairs minister Eric Wiebes are to meet retail trade representatives to discuss measures to discourage people from doing too much Christmas shopping.

In particular, they want shops to do more to limit numbers inside stores, prime minister Mark Rutte told MPs during Wednesday evening’s debate on the government’s coronavirus strategy.

The ministers will also meet mayors and regional safety board chiefs to discuss other measures, such as closing car parks and introducing one way systems in busy shopping streets, the prime minister said.

Officials are keen to avoid a repeat of the Black Friday situation, when shops in Rotterdam, Dordrecht and other places were closed early by order of their mayors because shopping areas were too crowded.

The Black Friday crowds are thought to be one reason why the number of coronavirus infections has started rising again.

Rutte also told MPs that if the government is forced to introduce tougher measures on December 22, they will not apply to December 25 and 26. ‘We will exempt them,’ Rutte said. However, the three-visitor limit will remain in force.

The prime minister warned at Tuesday’s press conference that the lockdown will be further tightened up if there is no change in the infection rate, which has hovered at between 6,000 and 7,000 for several days now.

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