Clients sitting on a terrace before 8 May will be fined, police say
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Clients sitting on a terrace before 8 May will be fined, police say

Credit: Hatim Kaghat/Belga

Not only the owners of businesses who put up their terraces before 8 May, but also their customers sitting down on them will be fined, according to the police.

Even though the Consultative Committee agreed on 8 May, several mayors already said that they would allow their terraces to reopen a week earlier, leading to a lot of unnecessary confusion, according to Nicholas Paelinck of the Local Police Committee.

“This way, no one can make sense of these things anymore,” he told Het Nieuwsblad.

However, the rules are clear for the police: whoever sets up their terrace – even if the mayor of the municipality allows it – and anyone sitting on them can be fined.

“We check for violations. At the moment, a federal state of emergency is in force in our country,” Paelinck said. “So, as far as the Covid issue is concerned, the mayor has no power over the police.”

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As far as potential clients go, they are also going against the rules in force when they sit on a terrace that is not allowed to be there yet, according to him.

However, Paelinck assumes that this will cause few problems in Flanders, as Flemish Minister-President Jan Jambon assured owners that the Region would continue to support the businesses, even when terraces can open.

In Wallonia and the Brussels-Capital Region, however, the situation is different as the sector receives a lot less support from the regional authorities, according to calculations by De Standaard.

On Thursday morning, Belgium’s College of Prosecutors General also warned the hospitality sector to strictly follow the measures imposed by the Consultative Committee on Wednesday, reminding people that the offenders will be prosecuted.

The statement followed statements by several mayors across Belgium that they would not or could not prevent bar and restaurant owners from putting up their terraces from 1 May, instead of a week later.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times