The Antwerp World Diamond Centre (AWDC) has released a coronavirus-related update to the Antwerp diamond community, stating that the Diamond Office will remain open. The Diamond Office is essentially the beating heart of Antwerp's diamond trade, being the place where all rough and polished diamonds are imported and exported from the country. In a typical year, that is $46 billion annually, or $210 million every working day.
The Belgian National Security Council yesterday announced the adoption of multiple measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus. While it is not a 'lockdown', the government has decreed that all non-essential stores must remain closed (except for grocery stores, pharmacies and animal food stores), gatherings are prohibited, public transportation is allowed provided social distancing is respected and all non-essential travel is forbidden. The AWDC has informed all those working in the industry to observe the new measures imposed by the Belgian government and recommended taking steps such as setting up all appointments digitally, making sure the working area is arranged in such a way that it is possible to maintain a distance from other people of no less than 1.5 metres – what is called ‘social distancing’ – setting up hand-cleaning stations, limiting the number of people in the offices and building, allowing people to visit by appointment only and keeping visitors limited to a strict number.
"The health crisis that has been unfolding over the past weeks, days and hours has had a significant impact on everyone," the AWDC wrote to the Antwerp community. "Our highest priority is to safeguard the health of our family, friends, colleagues and members of our community. At the same time, we intend to do everything possible to support our community, to ensure the continuity of the diamond trade and provide the best possible services in a responsible manner."