Story By: Anastasia Smirnova, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
The Belgian government is introducing prison sentences of up to two years for those caught intentionally coughing on police officers during the coronavirus crisis.
The decision to toughen the measures has been confirmed by the Belgium College of Attorneys General and comes after two men spat on police officers in separate incidents in the city of Antwerp in north-western Belgium’s Flemish region.
Reports say seven people were booked in the past week in Antwerp, with judges yet to decide on if they will be punished under the new regulations or not.
Chair of the College of Attorneys General and prosecutor general of Ghent, Erwin Dernicour, 54, commented: “We want to signal that this is not permissible. Given the consequences that the coronavirus can have, it can be very traumatising for the officer.”
Apart from introducing a sentence time of between three months to two years, law-breakers can receive hefty penalties of up to 2,400 EUR (2,117 GBP).
It is also forbidden to spit, sneeze or cough on food, with fines of up to 16,000 EUR (14,105 GBP).
Another note in the College of Attorneys General of Belgium specifies that anyone sneezing or coughing on food can receive up to five years in jail.
Just like most European countries Belgium is currently on lockdown, which is set to remain in place until 19 April.
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