Thursday 09 April 2020

Border shop split in two: ‘sorry, no shirts, they’re in Belgium’

Photo: Odi Busman

Retail shop Zeeman in Baarle-Nassau, the Noord-Brabant village which straddles the border between the Netherlands and Belgium, has become a focal point for the countries’ different approach to coronavirus, local broadcaster Omroep Brabant reports.

The border splits the shop in two, with its Belgian section closed following the Belgian directive for all non-essential shops while its Dutch half remains open for business.

This meant that customer Onno from Baarle Nassau, who wanted to buy ‘two night shirts’ at the shop, was told by staff the shirts were officially situated in Belgium and he could not cross the border which is marked with a police tape.

‘I had a good laugh,’ Onno told the broadcaster, ‘but it does show how strict the rules are.’

Solidarity

A Zeeman spokesman confirmed the shop in Baarle Nassau has been divided into two to comply with the Belgian rules but said the shop actually falls under Dutch law. ‘We are doing it to show our solidarity with our Belgian neighbours,’ he said.

Essentials like baby clothing and household articles are on the Dutch side so people can still buy those.

Meanwhile, concrete blocks put up by the Belgian authorities to close the border with the Netherlands in the province of Zeeland have resulted in a conundrum for the inhabitants near the Dutch village of Philippine as well.

The only asphalt road going to their homes takes them into Belgium, the Dutch alternative being an extremely bumpy track which ‘is not very convenient,’ one of the locals told local broadcaster Omroep Zeeland.

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