No protection for holidaymakers who break rules abroad, warns minister

No protection for holidaymakers who break rules abroad, warns minister
Interior minister Pieter De Crem (CD&V). © Belga

Belgians who travel abroad this summer and break the local coronavirus rules can expect no help from the Belgian government when they get in trouble, federal home affairs minister Pieter De Crem has warned.

De Crem (VD&V) was speaking on VTM News after police broke up an illegal gathering of about 60 young people on the Antwerp shopping street Meir. That came a week after hundreds of young people had congregated in Ixelles and Anderlecht in Brussels after the bars closed.

Those incidents led to warnings that reckless disregard for the rules could lead to a flare-up of infections, as well as a tough legal response.

De Crem pointed out that any breach of the rules in Belgium could lead to a fine of €250, with repeat offenders risking a prison sentence.

However the courts have warned it could take them a long time to work through the number of cases of contested fines handed out only during the full lockdown in March. If police were to start issuing fines to hundreds of people at one gathering, the courts system would simply stop working altogether.

We are on our way to the new normal, from July 1, and that road is an asphalted road, where we say very clearly what is possible and what is not,” De Crem said. “But if you get off that paved road, you just drive into the canal.”

And he warned that foreign authorities might be less lenient towards those who break the rules at holiday destinations. If Belgians find themselves in trouble abroad if could be more serious than a €250 fine. But the Belgian government, in the form of local embassy or consular staff, would not be willing to come to the help of offenders, he warned.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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