Measures to halt the spread of the coronavirus have created an odd situation in a village straddling the Dutch-Belgian border, where opposite sides of the road are in different countries.

For decades, residents have freely gone about their business barely noticing the dotted frontier on the ground, but now tougher lockdown rules in Belgium limit its citizens to food shops and pharmacies, while the Dutch are also allowed to visit the shoe shop, travel agency and optician on their territory.

“These are all Dutch shops, but in Belgium they would have to be closed in this time of coronavirus,” Frans De Bont, mayor of the Belgian municipality Baarle-Hertog, said, pointing at a row of shops on a Dutch street section.

“I live just 50 metres away, I walk by, but I cannot go into any of these shops because I am Belgian,” he told Reuters TV. “We have extra police driving around, but we are calling for understanding from the public.”

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