Though masks have largely disappeared from public spaces, with the Covid-19 pandemic subsided in Europe, the obligation to wear a mouth covering in healthcare establishments in the Brussels-Capital Region remains. This applies to hospitals, medical practices, and pharmacies and has been extended until 23 May 2023, RTBF reports.
The decision was made following a meeting of the Common Community Commission (COCOM) which offered a fresh analysis of the Covid situation in Belgium.
The extension was deemed necessary due to an increased incidence rate for the virus, rising to 30 cases per 100,000 inhabitants over a period of two weeks, as well as an 8.3% positivity rate and the propagation of more contagious Omicron variants.
Fortunately, the vaccination coverage of the general population in Brussels is more than 60% and, according to the latest data, only “six intensive care beds are occupied by Covid patients”, which equals an occupancy rate of just 2%.
“It can be deduced from these figures that the pandemic is not yet completely over,” the report says. The virus still causes a “certain danger for the health of the population” due to the prevalence of the contagious omicron variant and other sub-variants.
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The decision to extend the mask mandate has been made in order to “protect specific risk groups, including people visiting hospitals, medical practices and pharmacies, as well as people involved in home visits and care when the distance of 1.5 metres cannot be respected.”
Mask mandates have largely been dropped across the country. It is no longer compulsory to wear a face covering on public transport across all regions of the country. In Flanders, wearing a mask is not compulsory but highly recommended in medical settings.