Belgium in Brief: Police (Mostly) Can’t Spy With Drones
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Belgium in Brief: Police (Mostly) Can’t Spy With Drones

Credit: Belga

Belgian police will – in fact – not be allowed to use drones to look for violations of the coronavirus measures, the college of public prosecutors announced during a press conference on Tuesday.

Last week, the Police Privacy Commission (COC) opened an investigation into the use of drones by the Carma police zone in Limburg.

The police zone announced that it would use drones equipped with heat cameras during the end-of-year holidays to enforce the coronavirus measures, such as the ban on gatherings and the ban on fireworks.

Such use of drones, however, has been deemed “disproportionate” in this case, and any evidence obtained via drone images will therefore not be valid. They will, however, be allowed to evaluate the situation on streets and public areas.

Additionally, police will not be allowed to enter people’s homes to check if the measures are being followed, contrary to what Interior Minister Annelies Verlinden said last week.

Local police forces always need the permission of a public prosecutor before entering. “This magistrate will assess whether there are indeed sufficiently serious indications of a breach of the coronavirus measures,” the prosecutors said.

Phew. On with the news.

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1. New measures before Christmas: What we know

Belgium’s Consultative Committee will meet earlier than initially planned to evaluate the coronavirus figures and assess the epidemiological situation before Christmas.

While the meeting was initially brought forward to Friday because several members of the French-speaking liberal MR party wanted to discuss possible relaxations for the Christmas period, immediate relaxations are not an option with the current figures, according to Prime Minister Alexander De Croo.

Here’s What We Know.

2. Next few days will be ‘crucial’ to reverse rising trend, Van Gucht warns

The next few days will be crucial to reverse the rising trend of Covid-19 infections in Belgium, health officials stressed during a press conference on Wednesday.

The number of daily infections has been rising for several days in a row now, but consistently applying the existing measures can be enough to get them down again, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht. Read More.

3. Police will check for Ardennes house parties over Christmas

Police in the Ardennes will carry out checks on holiday homes in the region during the holiday period, to make sure rules on gatherings are being observed.

The authorities have a register of some 2,000 holiday homes available for rent, over and above those owned by people living elsewhere. Already, some 85-90% of the available short-term lets are booked, and the rest are expected to be snapped up in the days to come. Read More.

4. Brussels will uncover part of buried Senne river

Around 650 metres of Brussels’ buried Senne river will be brought above ground again in a few years’ time, Brussels Environment announced on Tuesday.

The river, which became extremely polluted, was covered up in the 19th century. The uncovering of the Senne is the core part of a project to redesign nearly 10 hectares of public space between the inner ring road and the Béco basin, where the Maximilian park is located. Read More.

5. Belgium will start vaccinating ‘on same day’ as all EU members

Belgium will start vaccinating its population against the coronavirus on the same day as the other Member States of the European Union.

Speaking on Wednesday, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said that all EU members will be able to start vaccinating “on the same day,” after Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine gets the official green light. Read more.

6. Belgium triples fine for breaking lockdown measures

Belgium will triple the fines for people attending a lockdown party, the college of public prosecutors announced during a press conference on Tuesday.

The fine for people attending a lockdown party will be raised from €250 now to €750. Organisers will risk a fine of €4,000 in future, instead of €750. Read More.

7. Brussels keeps 10 PM curfew on Christmas Eve

Brussels will not adapt its 10:00 PM curfew on Christmas Eve, the Region’s mayors and Minister-President decided on Wednesday.

That makes the Brussels Region’s curfew on Christmas Eve two hours earlier than in the rest of the country. Read More.

Jules Johnston
The Brussels Times