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Etterbeek imposes face masks around businesses and schools

In the Brussels commune of Etterbeek, it will now be mandatory to wear face masks in some areas, after Etterbeek Mayor Vincent De Wolf signed a police ordinance to that effect.

The new police ordinance makes it compulsory to wear a face mask, or an alternative that covers the mouth and nose, in certain public places where it would be difficult to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between persons.

The measure relates mainly to business streets and areas around schools. It lists the streets, such as the Rue des Tongres (Merode) and Chausée de Wavre (La Chasse), where the measure will be applicable to anyone above the age of 12 years, whether in the street, in business establishments, or within 15 metres of the entrances to any school in the commune.

It applies, at the local level, an Interior Ministry decree mandating the wearing of masks in public transport vehicles, according to De Wolf, since these are places where it would be difficult to remain 1.5 metres from one another. It reinforces a decision issued on 14 April by the National Security Council strongly recommending the wearing of masks or any useful alternatives in public places.

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“The decision to go beyond this recommendation to the population was made after mature reflection and appears to be necessary, at the local level, in certain specific places where mutual protection of persons needs to be organised by generalising the wearing of masks so as to avert the risk of infection and fight the spread of Covid-19,” the mayor said on Saturday.

De Wolf stressed that there was a fear that population density within the commune, the concentration of its businesses in a few main streets, and its large schools make it impossible, “even with the best collective will, to comply with the preventive distances.”

The mayor added that his decision was also based on many scientific opinions issued in recent days that called for the generalised use of masks in public places due to the way Covid-19 spreads.

According to De Wolf, this type of measure has already been taken in cities such as Iena in Germany and has demonstrated its relevance.

The effect of the mayor’s decision will become fully visible when most businesses open their doors, which should be on 11 May subject to a decision by the National Security Council. If it is adopted immediately, that would enable the commune’s authorities to build awareness within the population, the mayor said.

“This gives everyone a reasonable amount of time to procure a mask or an alternative allowing the mouth and nose to be covered.”

Signs will be placed at each of the areas in question while some 90,000 face masks ordered by the commune for its inhabitants will be distributed gradually during the month of May, De Wolf said.

The Brussels Times

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