Belgium has made spitting on police an offence punishable by a hefty fine and jail time following an increase in incidents of people using spit against officers amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The College of Attorneys General of Belgium confirmed that offenders could be fined up to €2,400 and could face prison terms of between 3 months and two years.
Using the coronavirus as a threat, for example by claiming to be infected with it to scare others, will also expose offenders to the same penalties.
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Spitting on food products has also been made a punishable by even harsher penalties, with offenders risking a fine that could reach a whopping €16,000 and up to five years in prison, De Standaard reports.
The harsher approach on spitting offences come as police report instances of people spitting on officers against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
On the second weekend since Belgium introduced lockdown measures against the virus, two men were arrested in Antwerp for spitting on police enforcing the confinement rules.
"We want to signal that this is not permissible. Given the consequences that the coronavirus can have, it can be very traumatising for the officer," Attorneys General Chair Erwin Dernicourt said.
Across Belgium, police officers have been working on enforcing the lockdown measures, currently set to remain in place until 19 April.
A week into the lockdown in Brussels, at least two police zones said they had drawn up hundreds of reports concerning violations of the lockdown, and announced Monday that two repeat offenders had been arrested.
The Brussels Times