People who use a fake Covid Safe Ticket (CST) or Passenger Location Form (PLF) in Belgium will immediately be summoned to the correctional court and risk a prison sentence from now on.
Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic in Belgium, the College of Prosecutors-General has issued guidelines on how breaches of the measures should be prosecuted. Following the latest Royal Decree of 28 October, which included the general introduction of the CST, these guidelines were tightened on Tuesday.
“Particularly severe action will be taken against people suspected of falsifying and/or using forged documents linked to the enforcement of the coronavirus protection measures, such as a false CST or PLF,” a press release stated.
Given the “particular seriousness” of creating and/or presenting fake documents, considering the fact that Belgium’s entire health policy depends on their authenticity, people who are caught will immediately be summoned to appear before the correctional court.
An offence brought before the correctional court can be punished by a term of imprisonment ranging from a minimum of eight days to a maximum of five years, according to the authorities.
“Exceptionally, the public prosecutor can issue directives that propose an immediate out-of-court settlement of €750,” the College stated. “However, in case of refusal or non-payment, a summons will also be issued.”
Additionally, for the enforcement of the rules for the CST, the courts will put the focus on the organisers and managers of events and facilities, such as the hospitality industry or fitness centres.
“The police will be instructed to ensure that organisers and managers verify that their visitors have a CST in cases where its use is compulsory,” the college said.
An (immediate) out-of-court settlement of €750 will be imposed on organisers and owners who violate this legal obligation, according to the press release.
The correct use of face masks will also be strictly monitored, especially on public transport. Anyone failing or refusing to use a mask will be subject to an (immediate) out-of-court settlement of €250.
“The social importance of complying with the coronavirus measures cannot be underestimated,” stressed Ignacio de la Serna, chair of the College. “Every citizen bears an important responsibility. Only together, we can ensure that the virus is kept under control.”