Vandenbroucke calls for masks for nine-year-olds

Vandenbroucke calls for masks for nine-year-olds
Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke. Credit: Belga

Belgium’s Minister of Public Health Frank Vandenbroucke (Vooruit) is calling for mandatory face masks from the age of 9, along with stricter controls on the current measures, reports De Standaard.

“[The Covid Safe Ticket] and mouth masks should be used when organising something inside,” he told VTM Nieuws.

“We are facing a very difficult situation. I don't think we should do the same as in the Netherlands, but we are facing the most difficult moment in this crisis since this government was formed.”

His advice comes in the face of rising coronavirus figures as Belgium grapples with the fourth wave of the pandemic.

“We will not get rid of the virus,” Vandenbroucke told VTM.

“We are going to have to do something. We also realize that everyone is at their wits' end. Doctors, hospitals, people in the cultural sector, teachers... We are going to have to weigh things up very carefully.”

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Vandenbroucke isn’t in favour of a temporary lockdown as in the Netherlands, but rather for measures that can be maintained for longer - namely, face masks.

“Everywhere, really everywhere,” he said. “And with children as young as 9 years old. It’s not easy, it’s not pleasant.”

Vandenbroucke wants to see masks again in indoor spaces where the Covid Safe Ticket (CST) is used, saying the CST should be paired with mask wearing and ventilation.

He also wants to see a formal opinion regarding how outdoor Christmas markets can be organised. Some cities have cancelled theirs, but others are still planned to take place.

Vandenbroucke also announced that as of next week there will be checks on ventilation and from then on, fines will be handed out for non-compliance.

The Minister of Public Health is not in favour of restricting social contacts, emphasising instead that there should be “very clear rules on masks” and that “we should once again carry out thorough checks.”

The minister also considers teleworking important, but did not indicate it should be mandatory, instead suggesting everyone follow the current advice.

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