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BRUSSELS, March 25. /TASS/. Life in the Belgian capital is getting back to normal slowly but surely in the wake of the March 22 terrorist attacks, as the authorities have downscaled the terrorist alert to third level. Public transport is back to the streets and most city residents have resumed their habitual business routine. Police control is less conspicuous. Frequent police sirens around heard in the city are possibly the sole reminder of what has already gone down in history as "Black Tuesday."
Public transport, suspended immediately after the terrorist attacks, is resuming normal operation. More Brussels metro stations opened on Thursday morning than on Thursday.
"Four lines reopened in the morning. Far from all stations will operate, though: 38 of the 69," the municipal transport department STIB said. Previously, only 20 stations or so opened their doors to passengers. The metro closes as early as 18:30-19:00 for security reasons. Friday will be no exception, the transport department said.
The city’s railway stations are operating with some restrictions. Only one of the several entrances is open and passengers have to spend some time in long lines. Queues at the central railway station are dozens of meters long.
Schools officially reopened on March 23. Whereas in the previous days some educational establishments were still sending "School closed today" text messages to students’ mobiles and many parents preferred to keep their kids at home, the situation has changed for the better towards the weekend.
Policing has eased in the European Quarter, where one of the bombs exploded at the Maelbeek metro station. No large police contingents armed with automatic rifles or heavy military trucks are seen around the European Union offices anymore. Security at the entrances to the European Commission and the European Council stays tight. Queues remain here, too.
Social and cultural life in the city is almost back to normal. Theaters, museums, concert halls, shops and trading and entertainment centers are open. Whereas in the first days following the terrorist attacks businesses were complaining about the lack of customers, the usual hustle and bustle is back again.
The most favored tourist musts are crowded. Yet the spontaneous memorial commemorating the March 22 terror attacks’ victims still draws far more visitors that the city’s main square, Grand Place. Since Black Tuesday it has been covered by a huge carpet of burning candles, flowers, postcards and touching notes. Visitors keep bringing flowers and candles and leaving colored chalk drawings on the asphalt around the Brussels Stock Exchange and the BSE building itself.