Brussels set to impose face masks in public as region slides towards alarm threshold

Brussels set to impose face masks in public as region slides towards alarm threshold

Officials in Brussels said that they expect to impose face masks in all public places this week as the rate of new coronavirus infections continues to climb, pushing the region closer to reaching an alarm threshold.

"We are ready to impose the compulsory use of face masks if the mark of 50 [new weekly] cases is reached [Wednesday] or Thursday," Nancy Ngoma, a government spokesperson, said.

Last week, regional officials announced that wearing a face mask in all public places in the capital would become mandatory from the moment its 19 municipalities averaged an incidence rate of 50 new weekly cases per 100,000 inhabitants, a mark designated as an alarm-threshold.

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On Tuesday, the average incidence rate for the region was at 47 new weekly cases/100,000 inhabitants, Le Soir reports, despite the alarm threshold already being passed or reached in seven municipalities.

At the current rate at which new infections are being detected in the capital, regional authorities said they were expecting to reach that alarm threshold by the end of the week, according to the Francophone daily.

The move to make face masks compulsory emerged as the only concrete measure decided by officials in Brussels' regional government in a Regional Security Council summoned as experts warned that the virus was beginning to flare up in the area.

Ahead of the meeting, speculation was high that Brussels would follow in the footsteps of Antwerp and impose harsher measures to curb the rate of new infections, after provincial authorities in Antwerp imposed four-week late-night curfew.

The measure would unify the policy regarding face masks across the entire territory of Brussels, where the enforcement and application of coronavirus measures have been defined mostly at a local level, often giving way to contrasting regulations in the tightly knit territory of the Belgian capital's 19 municipalities.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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