Tuesday 01 December 2020

Shops begin to reopen as experts warn you should not be shopping for fun

Queuing up to go into Ikea in Delft. Photo: Robin Utrecht ANP

The Bijenkorf department store group is reopening its seven stores from Wednesday, but customer numbers will be limited and the catering and make-up departments will remain shut.

The Bijenkorf is the second big retail group to open to physical customers since voluntarily closing down at the start of the lockdown in mid March.

On Tuesday, furniture giant Ikea reopened its 13 outlets in the Netherlands for business, generating long queues of customers and warnings from epidemiologists about the risks to public health.

‘It really is not a good idea to go to Ikea to buy a mug or a plant,’ Leiden University virologist Ann Vossen told the Parool. ‘I understand that people want to go out and do normal things again. But, unfortunately, life is not normal.’

Giveaways

The Albert Heijn supermarket group has also restarted selling savings stamps and tokens for giveaways.

‘After a few hectic weeks in which we have put all our energy into supplying our shops and meeting the 1.5 metre requirement, there is now space to restart our other activities,’ a spokesman told news agency ANP.

Meanwhile, some specialist food shops are reportedly benefiting from the coronacrisis as they are rediscovered by people who don’t want to go into busy supermarkets, or customers who want to eat something extra nice because they can no longer eat out.

‘Specialist shops have long been kept afloat by the older generation but now youngsters are discovering butchers and greengrocers as well,’ Jan-Willem Grievink of Food Service Institute Nederland told news website Nu.nl.

At the same time, specialist shops should make the most of new opportunities offered by online sales and expand their opening hours to welcome more shoppers, he said.

Public transport

As streets become busier again, Dutch railway company NS says it is to start running more intercity trains to make it easier for people to keep 1.5 metres distance.

However, the NS said again on Wednesday that people should only use the train if absolutely necessary, to ensure there is enough space for care workers and other people in essential jobs.

Amsterdam’s public transport company is also increasing tram and bus services slightly, while in The Hague and Rotterdam that may also be an option, broadcaster NOS said.

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