Due to more flexible corona measures during the first wave, the economy of the Netherlands seems to have been hit less hard than the Belgian economy. The Belgian economy shrank by 14.5 percent in the second quarter, the Dutch by 9.4 percent. The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) concludes that construction in the Netherlands in particular was hit less hard than in Belgium.
Dutch construction shrank by 3.5 percent in the second quarter compared to a year earlier. In Belgium construction shrank by almost 16 percent. According to Statistics Netherlands, this is because there were large differences between the corona measures of the two countries. For example, in Belgium it was mandatory to keep a distance of 1.5 meters. Because this was impossible for many construction companies, many companies temporarily closed their doors.
Urgent advice versus obligation
In the Netherlands, the 1.5 meter measure was urgent advice. In addition, an agreement was concluded in the Netherlands between trade unions and employers in early March, allowing construction to continue. This has meant that construction output has barely decreased. In Belgium, on the other hand, construction production in the second quarter was 40 percent lower than the year before.
The Belgian retail trade also suffered greatly from the stricter corona measures. For example, all non-essential stores had to close for weeks, while in the Netherlands the stores were allowed to remain open if they had taken measures. That is why hardware stores and garden shops were able to generate an exceptionally high turnover in the Netherlands.