Illustratie Niek Verlaan via Pixabay

Bigger fines for lockdown partygoers and organisers

Belgian police have welcomed increased fines for people taking part in illegal gatherings in the home, so-called lockdown parties.  On Tuesday prosecutors announced fines were going up.

People taking part in lockdown parties will now face a 750 euro fine instead of the existing 250 corona fine.  People organising illegal gatherings risk fines of up to 4,000 euros.  Earlier the ceiling was 750 euros. Belgium’s public prosecutors announced the increases at a news conference on Tuesday.

Police will only be allowed to enter private premises with authorisation from public prosecutors, while drones will not be used to try and track down illegal parties. In order to enter premises where they suspect an illegal party is under way police must first call the public prosecutor’s office and seek permission or get permission from the owner or tenant. 

Prosecutors say the use of drones isn’t proportionate and that privacy is more important in this case.

Christmas is concentrating minds also at public prosecutors’ offices across the land.  Public prosecutors have issued fresh guidelines.  In addition to the higher fines anything linked to the gathering, i.e. music installations, beer taps but also smartphones and partygoers’ cars may be seized.

Prosecutors define ‘lockdown parties’ as gatherings attended by large numbers of people at which alcohol is consumed and music is played. Participants must be clearly violating corona measures.

Prosecutors can impose fines of up to 4,000 euros on organisers as part of the amicable settlement regime, but this step can be skipped and defendants can be taken to court straight away.  In Antwerp all those suspected of involvement in lockdown parties are already taken to court straight away. 

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