The Brussels-Capital Region will expand the use of the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) from today (Friday), but it will take a few days before rule-breakers will start getting fined, said the region's Health Minister Alain Maron.
Showing a valid CST to prove that you have been fully vaccinated, recently tested negative or recovered from the virus in the past half-year will be mandatory in Brussels' hospitality industry, sports centres and indoor events with more than 50 people from Friday.
But no fines will be given in the first few days as the police will give people warnings people and remind them of the requirement, Maron said on the Flemish television programme 'De Afspraak' on Wednesday evening.
"The law must be respected as soon as possible but in the beginning, we will be tolerant," he said. "That is what we do with all rules."
Maron explained that the mayors of the 19 Brussels municipalities are the ones responsible for the police in their zones, and they will need a few days before everything is in order and fines can be issued.
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How many days that will be, "depends on the mayors themselves," he said. "We are trying to make sure that all of them follow the same rules at the same time so that everything is aligned. But there could be small differences."
As soon as the police start enforcing the measure, rule-breakers risk fines of between €50 and €500, Maron stressed. "They are imposed by the courts, so they can be multiplied."
"In short: you will need your Covid Safe Ticket if you want to have lunch in Brussels or go to the theatre," he added.
While Brussels' priority is still to increase vaccination coverage, the CST is mainly a health measure and serves to reduce the risk of infection in places where many people gather.
"But, of course, if more people decide to get vaccinated anyway because there is a Covid Safe Ticket: all the better," said Maron.
The vaccination rate in Brussels remains a lot lower than in the rest of the country, but Maron pointed out that Brussels is the third most cosmopolitan city in the world. Furthermore, about a third of the population lives at or below the poverty threshold and 4% to 5% of Brussels residents have been vaccinated abroad.
"If we had the solution and the recipe, we would have already applied it," he said, adding that it is now just a matter of going into the neighbourhoods and convincing as many people as possible to get vaccinated.
"And we do that, but unfortunately it takes time. Believe me: I wish it went faster."