Compulsory masks in four Brussels communes come under attack
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    Compulsory masks in four Brussels communes come under attack

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    A decision by the mayors of four Brussels communes to make it compulsory to wear a face mask in some shopping areas is likely to be over-ruled by the Brussels region, it emerged during a plenary session of the regional parliament yesterday.

    However, it remains unclear who is supposed to take the decision.

    In the first week of May, Etterbeek mayor Vincent De Wolf (MR) took the unilateral decision to impose the wearing of a face mask in certain busy shopping areas of his commune, including the Rue des Tongres and the La Chasse area.

    His example was later followed by the mayors of the two Woluwes, and the mayor of Saint-Josse.

    The move was immediately criticised in the Brussels parliament.

    I don’t think it’s a wise move to go it alone,” said Marc-Jean Ghyssels (PS). “That creates uncertainty among the people of Brussels. Something like this should first be discussed within the conference of mayors.”

    Other MPs called for coherence. “Otherwise you risk having a cacophony of police decisions. That doesn’t help anyone.”

    When the issue was once again raised this week, minister-president Rudi Vervoort made it clear the rogue mayors would be overruled. However at the same time he passed the decision on.

    Vervoort pointed out that it was now a matter for the region’s minister for local authorities, Bernard Clerfayt (DéFI) to issue the notice to the four mayors to remove the order on masks.

    At Clerfayt’s office, however, a spokesperson replied that they had only received the case file the day before, and it was still being studied.

    There seems to be an administrative vacuum in the Brussels Region in this area,” the spokesperson said. “We want to verify that it is for the local authorities minister to reverse the face mask rule that some municipalities have introduced. We are studying the legal side, and then we will make a decision on the substance of the matter.”

    Residents of the four communes, meanwhile, can consider the disputed rule as still in force.

    Alan Hope
    The Brussels Times