The federal government’s order of filters for homemade face masks will not be delivered in time for the 20 May deadline, Justice Minister Koen Geens said on Tuesday.
In an interview with Radio 1, Geens said that out of the total 22 million filters ordered, 18 million would arrive by Friday, 22 May.
“Slightly slower than I announced, but the bulk of it will be received by municipalities on Friday,” he said, adding that local authorities would then distribute them at their own pace.
Following the decision to make the use of face masks mandatory on public transport, the government moved to order face masks as well as filters for the masks already made by citizens themselves or ordered separately by local authorities.
Geens, who was tasked with coordinating the order, said that the government intended to provide each citizen with two filters for their reusable face masks.
On Monday, Geens’ cabinet announced that some 12 million filters had already been distributed to provincial authorities during past weeks.
But a representative of an association of Flemish municipalities said that citizens looking to be informed of when and how they would receive the material should turn to their local leaders.
“We know that municipalities are responsible for the distribution of face masks, the ones they have ordered themselves and also for the filters [ordered by] the federal government,” spokesperson Nathalie Debast said.
“People best base themselves on the communication of their own municipality,” she added, noting that residents who had no face masks yet could also use a scarf or a bandana to cover their nose and mouth.
“I suspect everyone should have gotten everything in June,” Debast said.
Federal leaders also promised that there would be one face mask for each citizen in Belgium, with Defense Minister Philippe Goffin last week saying that so far, 1 million masks had arrived, VRT reports.
According to the outlet, Goffin said that the remaining masks were expected to arrive by Sunday.
The Brussels Times