Belgian deputy PM defends nationwide face mask order
Wednesday, 06 May 2020
Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Koen Geens defended the governments’ decision to order a face mask for every Belgian citizen on Wednesday.
Geens’ comments come after criticism from House member Michael Freilich and Glabbeek (Flanders) mayor Peter Reekmans, that the purchasing procedure should be halted because the 12 million masks will arrive too late. Face masks are now mandatory on public transport, as Belgium entered phase 1A of its deconfinement on Monday.
Geens discussed the federal government’s decision on both the Dutch-speaking Radio 1 and French-speaking La Première, saying that the initial tone regarding the usefulness for the population to wear a mask on a daily basis had changed and that the National Security Council followed the advice of experts.
The Council received the experts’ recommendation for people to wear masks on 17 April, and they ordered filters a week later, according to Geens. These filters are being delivered in packages of about 6 million, he explained on La Première.
On 24 April, following a National Security Council meeting, the Prime Minister had announced that the Federal and the federated entities wanted to provide each citizen with at least one standard fabric protection, free of charge, as well as two filters to be integrated in masks already acquired or made.
As for the textile masks themselves, “the Minister of Defence placed orders last night.” With the deconfinement, most citizens will have to use several masks and wash them after use, he stressed on Radio 1 and expressed his view that this order would still be useful.