Coronavirus: police to reduce checks on non-essential movements
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    Coronavirus: police to reduce checks on non-essential movements

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    Police will begin reducing checks on non-essential movements as the loosening of the lockdown regulations will result in more people being out on the streets.

    Coming changes allowing the reopening of all shops and visits in private residences mean police will no longer be able to carry out individual checks as they did during the early stages of the lockdown, a police representative said.

    “We are going for a different approach, the corona (sic) will be part of the checks in our normal police operations,” Nico Paelinck of the Standing Committee of the Local Police told VRT.

    Paelinck said that “strict” controls to ensure people were only out for essential reasons were no longer possible and that the changes in the rules from the government also brought changes in their enforcement strategies.

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    “We’re in the next phase, police are going to focus more on the ban on gathering,” he said, adding that they would also be enforcing the use of face masks in public transport and overseeing the orderly reopening of shops from 18 May.

    Police will also continue focusing on daytrippers and on check on people going to a sports club away from their place of residency, which is allowed but only for the duration of the practice.

    Since the start of the lockdown, local police zones have been enforcing the regulations and were capable of issuing fines or carrying out arrests.

    As thousands of fines were issued by police zones across Belgium, images of people out for a stroll or laying in parks in Brussels and Flanders still surface throughout the lockdown, with tensions flaring up between police and local residents.

    After arrests took place in Antwerp and Wallonia after men were caught spitting at police or others, Belgium’s top law enforcement authorities made spitting punishable by a hefty fines and jail time.

    In Brussels, the Midi Police Zone is facing an investigation after a check carried out by police officers led to the death of a 19-year-old.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times