Belgium and Netherlands keep ports open
Source & Copyright:ITTO/Fordaq
Belgium has been in lockdown since March 18 and implemented tough enforcement measures. The country's 11.4 million residents have been ordered to stay at home and to avoid outside contact as much as possible. People are only allowed to leave home to visit the doctor, buy food or assist others in need. Police are patrolling the streets and have the power to enforce fines on those not abiding by the restrictions.
However, the Belgian prime minister asked for important sectors of industry to keep their activities going. The port of Antwerp, a major hub for imports of wood and other commodities into the whole of the EU, subsequently confirmed that the entire port is fully functional and will remain so in the future.
Unlike most other European countries, the Netherlands has so far stopped short of ordering people to remain at home. Instead, in a series of measures issued on 12 March, the Dutch government has asked that people stay at home as much as possible, banned gatherings except those “necessary to ensure the continued daily operations of institutions, businesses and other organisations”, and is encouraging other social distancing measures.
Since the Netherlands plays a vital role in European supply chains, the Dutch government has specifically identified air and sea freight chains, road transport, as well as food and medical supply chains as vital processes in view of Covid-19. Government support is being provided to ensure employees vital to the operation of these chains can go to work without interruption.