Thousands of employers breached coronavirus rules since March
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Thousands of employers breached coronavirus rules since March

Credit: Belga

Between 18 March and the end of August, 3,223 workplaces were found to be in breach of coronavirus rules, De Tijd and L’Echo report on Wednesday.

The General Directorate for the Control of Wellbeing at Work carried out 4,700 checks in companies between 18 March and 28 August, inspecting, among other things, whether the companies practiced enough social distancing and whether face masks were used where necessary.

The figures show major differences in various regions and provinces in the country, both in the number of companies getting caught and the number of checks being carried out.

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In the Brussels Region, a mere 198 employers were caught, after only 66 checks at a distance and 266 checks in workplaces themselves were carried out.

In the province of Antwerp, 671 employers were caught following 112 checks at a distance and 763 on the spot. A total of 1,064 employers were found breaching the rules in the province of East Flanders, where 328 checks were carried out at a distance and 1,198 at the workplace.

In the province of Liège, only 122 employers were found to have breached the rules, following 125 checks at a distance and 208 at the workplace.

A total of 3,039 employers got away with a warning, while 168 companies were imposed a deadline to comply with the rules, 15 cases were taken to court, and 84 companies were ordered to close.

Warnings are not enough, said Nadia Moscufo, a member of parliament who requested the figures. The warning are “in stark contrast to the heavy fines that people receive elsewhere if they do not follow the corona rules,” she said, calling for more inspections.

At a Consultative Committee press conference on Friday, Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke said that “we really are asking for a maximum commitment to working from home” as Belgium faces the coronavirus crisis.

A total of 347,289 confirmed coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Belgium since the start of the pandemic, according to the Sciensano public health institute, and the daily average of new cases continues to increase.

Jason Spinks
The Brussels Times