March 16th, 2020 – Antwerp
All diamond trading halls in Belgium and Israel are closing until further notice as the countries attempt to stem the spread of the coronavirus.
Antwerp’s four bourses will shut their trading floors from Monday, the Antwerpsche Diamantkring, the city’s rough-diamond exchange, said in an email to members Friday. The rough and polished trading halls of the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) in Ramat Gan closed Sunday, according to a notice from the bourse’s management.
Governments in both countries have introduced restrictions on interpersonal contact to combat the outbreak. Belgium has suspended bars, restaurants, clubs, sporting events, and schools, and encouraged people to work from home. On Saturday, Israel banned gatherings of more than 10 people and ordered people to maintain a distance of two meters from each other.
The Antwerpsche Diamantkring advised members to work from home as much possible and follow flexible hours to avoid being on public transport at busy times. The IDE also closed on-site facilities such as its fitness and smoking rooms, and recommended that only two people enter elevators at a time.
Diamond trading in Antwerp and Ramat Gan has slowed significantly as a result of the health situation. Belgium’s polished-diamond exports fell 55% in February, while Israel’s slumped 73%.
“We are working with all the authorities to ensure we receive a support package that will enable us to get through this period successfully,” IDE president Yoram Dvash wrote in a Facebook post-Saturday.