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Brussels police hand out more than 100 fines for illegal gatherings

17:36 20/03/2020

They gave everyone a couple of days to get used to the idea, and now the Brussels-Ixelles police zone is handing out fines to people in groups of three or more. They also administered fines today to the owners of non-essential shops who were open despite the ban.

On Tuesday evening, the federal government tightened up regulations to control the spread of the coronavirus. Leaving home is only allowed if one is going to work or to the supermarket, press shop, pharmacy or a medical facility.

Jogging and walking for exercise are also allowed, either alone or with one other person. And no more than two people should be in the same car. An exception is made for families with children.

Sitting around on benches, café tables or the steps of the Bourse – either alone or with another person –  is decidedly not allowed, as many people found out today. “We are going to further increase the patrols,” police spokesperson Ilse Van de Keere told Bruzz. “And we will also take action against people sitting together in cars because that really promotes the spread of the virus.”

Anyone gathering in a group of three or more who are not members of the same family risks a fine of €350 (half that for those aged 14-18) or a procès-verbal, which could see them paying more or getting jail time. “Should the public prosecutor decide to pursue the case, the person will have a record,” said Van de Keere. “Hopefully that will make flouting the measures a whole lot less attractive.”

Photo: Tourists are not exempt from the measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus in Belgium
©Thierry Roge

Written by Lisa Bradshaw