Police can enter homes to check if rules are respected, Interior Minister says
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Police can enter homes to check if rules are respected, Interior Minister says

Credit: Belga

Belgian police will be able to enter people’s homes in some cases to check if people are violating the coronavirus measures for social gatherings, according to Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden.

“If there is a serious threat to physical integrity, which could happen in the event of the spread of the coronavirus, the police could enter [homes] without a search warrant,” Verlinden said on the Flemish television programme ‘De Afspraak’.

“Many lockdown parties have already been shut down in this way, and it is important that people are called to account,” she added, pointing out that people also should not organise family Christmas parties in their garden.

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At the end of November, she stressed that inviting people to your backyard for the holidays was allowed, but only if the total group size was not bigger than four people, and social distancing and hygiene measures were respected at all times.

Additionally, there has to be direct access to the garden, and only the chosen close contact (so-called ‘cuddle contact’) can enter the home to use the toilet, for example.

However, police have to act proportionally in their checks, Verlinden said, stressing that officers will not systematically ring the doorbell at every door.

“If there are indications, for example, a lot of cars outside, a lot of noise, or a lot of people together in the same place, the police can establish that there is a threat to public health, and they are allowed to enter,” she explained.

Earlier this week, Verlinden stressed that police “are doing everything [they] can to show people that [they] mean business,” in a reaction to the many lockdown parties that took place last weekend.

“But if individuals continue to violate the rules, we will still be stuck with these strict measures by Easter,” she said.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times