Governor of West Flanders declares zero tolerance at Christmas

Carl Decaluwé, governor of West Flanders, is seeking stringent checks on corona measures during the festive season.  The governor was responding as corona cases rise by 10% across the province.

“If you are supposed to wear a face covering in a busy shopping street and you don’t, you will get an on-the-spot fine of 250 euros”.

“We’ve agreed that all police zones will deploy at full capacity, especially on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Camera networks and drones will be employed too.  Some stations will get re-enforcements from the federal police.  Plain cloths officers will also patrol.  We will do everything to get people to obey the rules.”

“I am also asking the justice and interior ministers to provide a clear framework in which we may operate to deal with private parties. At present you cannot force entry into a home.  We still live a country with law and order.”

Mr Decaluwé has been liaising with federal police, local police chiefs and prosecutors in order to come up with a common strategy for checks during this period.

“West Flemish figures are heading in the wrong direction.  The R or reproduction number – showing how many people one sick person infects – is the highest in the country.  We want zero tolerance for anybody not complying with the rules in order to prevent a third wave.”

West Flanders borders the Netherlands and France.  The governor believes this could partly explain the rise. A large number of lockdown parties were busted across the province last weekend; Police even raided the College of Europe in Bruges that prepares future European officials.

Mr Decaluwé believes sufficient checks are being staged but greater preparations are needed ahead of the festive season.

“It will be very busy.  West Flanders boasts the coast and Bruges.  We’re looking at how we can enforce measures and increase public awareness. A carrot is good, but we need a stick in reserve.”

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