Dutch day trippers flock to Antwerp despite Covid concerns
The roads from the Netherlands to Belgium were remarkably busy throughout Monday, especially towards Antwerp. Many people are likely taking advantage of the shops and cafes which were allowed to remain open in Belgium, while the Netherlands is subject to a stricter lockdown due to the high level of coronavirus infections there. For over a week, only essential shops such as supermarkets, drugstores and pharmacies have been allowed to keep their doors open on the Dutch side of the border.
The police in Antwerp reported that it is "pleasantly busy" in the city. The police advised visitors to travel by public transport, by bicycle or on foot. Motorists are advised to use the various park-and-ride lots on the outskirts of the city. From there, vehicle occupants can transfer to public transport.
According to the ANWB, the traffic on the roads was concentrated on the A27, from Gorkum towards Breda, the A58 at the Galder junction, and on the E19 from Breda towards Antwerp. Around six kilometers of traffic jams were reported around noon, and the delay was just under half an hour. Most traffic jams towards the south were resolved by 2:30 p.m.
"It was remarkably busy this morning, especially on the roads to Antwerp," said an ANWB spokesperson. "Especially people from Brabant are coming to Antwerp en masse. As an organization, the ANWB is not advising against it. People have personal responsibility, but they have to ask themselves whether it is sensible." In recent days, the organization already noticed an uptick in traffic towards Antwerp.
A week ago, Prime Minister Mark Rutte asked the Dutch people not to travel across the southern border, or to Germany, unless it was absolutely necessary. He emphasized that the advice from the Cabinet and the Outbreak Management Team is to have as little contact with others as possible. Governor Cathy Berx of Antwerp and German mayors of border municipalities also asked that tourists from the Netherlands stay away. They are afraid that Dutch people infected with the contagious Omicron variant will bring the coronavirus variant across the border.
Reporting by ANP.