Belgium creates police task force to unify enforcement of coronavirus lockdown
Thursday, 02 April 2020
Belgium has created a task force to bring “clarity” to the country’s diverse police zones on how to enforce the lockdown measures to halt the coronavirus’ spread.
“Both our police forces and our citizens need clarity: something is either allowed or forbidden,” Interior Minister Pieter De Crem said in an online statement. “The current situation does not allow too many shades of grey.”
Since Belgium implemented nationwide lockdown measures in mid-March, the country’s 189 local police zones have been tasked with enforcing the measures, in cooperation with the federal police zone.
“The task force operates from Brussels and the main objective is to bring a coordinated and synchronised approach to the social distancing measures,” ministry spokesperson Erik Eenaerts told The Brussels Times.
Government agencies charged with coordinating the country’s response to the epidemic have received thousands of questions from citizens about what is and is not allowed during the lockdown, according to the online statement.
The creation of the task force also comes after police zones in Brussels asked for greater clarity regarding the federal government’s decision to allow outdoor physical activity.
“It is important that these measures are the same for everyone,” Eenaerts said, adding that the task force would also receive the remarks, questions or suggestions of police officers on the ground.
“In general, the vast majority of people living on Belgian soil —not only Belgians— are really respecting the social distancing guidelines,” Eenaerts said.
The guidelines issued by the task force to local police zones will be of a binding nature and will ensure that everyone “pulls together in the same direction” in order to beat the virus, De Crem said in the statement.