Lockdown: a ‘constant game’ between police and citizens in Brussels
Share article:
Share article:

Lockdown: a ‘constant game’ between police and citizens in Brussels

Credit: Jules Johnston

As the relaxed measures in Phase 2 of Belgium’s deconfinement plan allow an increasing number of reasons to go out, the Brussels police have a harder time making sure people are following them.

Since Monday 18 May, schools, many museums and cultural attractions, zoos, markets and ‘contact professions’ such as hairdressers have been open. A week earlier, on Monday 11 May, all shops were allowed to reopen their doors as well.

This means that visiting a museum and going shopping are now valid reasons to be in the public space, provided masks are worn if necessary, and the social distance is adhered to. Since people can also visit up to four other people, no matter where they live in Belgium, police have reduced their checks on “non-essential journeys,” but have switched to monitoring the ban on gatherings.

“If we get a call that the ban on gatherings is not being respected, we go and intervene. Then, the situation temporarily improves, people get too close to each other again after a while, regardless,” Olivier Slosse, spokesperson for the Brussels Capital-Ixelles police zone, told The Brussels Times. “We have to remind people of the rules. Constantly,” he added.

“I want to say that it is a constant game between the citizens and the police, but the stakes are too high to call it a game,” said Slosse. “However, we do need to play it, and keep an eye on the people permanently,” he added.

Related News:


The basic rule is still that people should stay at home as much as possible, and should only go out for essential journeys. “However, many things are allowed again now. The pressure on public spaces is increasing,” Slosse said. “We try to solve this as much as possible by implementing walking directions, for example,” he added.

However, some streets are so narrow that this solution is not possible, and even keeping to the regular social distancing measures becomes difficult. Several Brussels’ communes, such as Etterbeek and Saint-Josse-ten-Noode, have even made wearing a face mask mandatory in several of these streets and shops on their territory.

It is up to the traders and retailers to make sure that social distancing is possible. If a store cannot guarantee the appropriate space for its clients, it has to remain closed.

“We have also emptied out some parking spaces in several streets, to make sure that there is enough space to walk normally,” said Slosse. “In some neighbourhoods, like the Matongé district in Ixelles, for example, the sidewalks are not always wide enough,” he added.

In most cases, it is not so much that people do not want to listen, but that they are careless, or do not pay enough attention. “When people hear the announcements of measures that will go into force soon, they think that everything is allowed again,” Slosse added.

Additionally, the police check where most problems occur on a day-to-day basis, to keep their finger on the pulse. “In those areas, we attempt to be present a lot, mainly as a prevention factor. To encourage people to follow the rules,” he said.

As very warm weather has been forecast for the long weekend, the police are particularly monitoring the parks in the city closely. ” The will to go outside is great. People are social creatures, so it makes sense,” Slosse said.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

Latest news

Belgium aims to tackle sexual violence with video interrogations
The federal government is looking to tackle sexual violence and increase convictions connected to this crime by relying more heavily on video ...
Duvel celebrates 150th anniversary with special brew in commemorative bottle
Belgium’s Duvel Moortgat Brewery is celebrating its 150th anniversary with the release of a special brew in a commemorative bottle shaped like its ...
Pollution scandal: 3M to show emissions don’t pose risk or halt production
Flanders has ordered American company 3M, involved in a pollution scandal in Antwerp, to prove that emissions linked to its production activities do ...
The Netherlands fears a greater rise in sea levels than forecast
Sea levels could rise by up to two metres by 2100 on the Dutch coastline – far more than previously forecast – according to an announcement from the ...
The Smurfs return to Belgian TV with the first new show since 1989
A new Smurfs show is bringing the characters of Belgium's second-most-famous comic franchise back to the small screen with their first new series, 30 ...
Almost half of Belgian subsidies from EU left unused
Belgium left almost half (49%) of its subsidies allocated by the European Union between 2013 and 2020 unused, the equivalent of around €1.375 ...
Visitors to embark on Orient Express adventure at Brussels exhibition
An exhibition dedicated to the Orient Express – the train that was the scene for many novels, including Agatha Christie's – allows visitors to ...
Offers for fake Covid Safe Tickets circulating on social media
As the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) becomes mandatory in many places across Belgium, offers for forgeries are increasingly circulating on social media. ...
Belgium in Brief: Feeling Good/ Pandemic Law
Yesterday I said I was writing a newsletter I didn't want to write again. Today I'm writing another one ahead of a meeting that wasn't supposed ...
Eating less meat won’t actually help much with Flemish CO2 emissions
When it comes to the ways in which ordinary people can help to reduce CO2 emissions, eating less meat is often touted as an important solution. ...
At least one in seven coronavirus patients suffers from long-term Covid
Six months after becoming infected with the coronavirus, at least one in seven people still show symptoms connected to the infection, varying from ...
Operation Sky ECC: Major arrests and another large scale operation
A major operation took place last night in Belgium as a result of Operation Sky ECC, the name given to an investigation into organised crime that ...