With the metro system, schools, shopping malls, museums, cinemas and many restaurants closed in Brussels, local businesses are beginning to worry about the economic costs of the tightened security in the capital. David Pollard reports.
The sign says it all. 'Closed until further notice.' Schools, cinemas, restaurants - and these stores on the Chaussee d'Ixelles - usually one of Brussels busiest shopping streets. SOUNDBITE: Jewellery Store Worker, Gwendoline Khalfi, saying (French): "We're typically in a period of people looking for presents, but there are very few who are taking the risk of going out." SOUNDBITE: Toy Shop Worker, Laeticia Shalaj, saying (French): "People are scared of leaving their homes. So those who are scared do their shopping online. If they do their shopping online the shops will go bankrupt." Parts of this city of 1.2 million people have become a ghost town. Monday's week-long maximum security alert warning of a "serious and imminent" threat of an attack, like those in Paris on November 13. Brussels now the focus of those investigations. A disaster for the city's turnover - but safety has to come first, says Olivier Willcox of the Chamber of Commerce. SOUNDBITE: Beci Chamber Of Commerce Head, Olivier Willcox, saying (French): "The big paradox is that in Brussels, nothing has happened. And so in fact people are afraid, a fear that something is going to happen. In Paris, we're in a mindset of resilience, we've gone beyond it." The lockdown comes as the vital festive tourist season beckons. Some visitors are trying to put a brave face on it - Brussels is still a great place to be, they say. But for this winter market due to open its stalls on Friday, Christmas might not have its usual sparkle.