Local authorities in Brussels have begun advising residents to wear mouth covers when going outdoors, going beyond official federal guidelines.
The mayors of five municipalities in Brussels have officially issued advice to residents recommending them to cover their mouths with a protective mask or a scarf in public.
Woluwe-Saint-Lambert Mayor Olivier Maingain was the first to say that he "warmly recommended" residents of the southern municipality to wear a mouth mask outdoors.
Maingain made the headlines in early March for banning returnees from "high-risk areas" from entering public places, a move that saw him slammed by regional and federal authorities who called his move "disproportionate."
On Wednesday, the municipality of Saint-Josse announced it would start distributing reusable mouth masks among residents, who would be advised to wear them.
- Saint-Josse will distribute reusable mouth masks to citizens
- Wearing a mask not necessary yet, says Belgium's Health Minister
"If wearing masks helps reduce the spread of the virus, it should be generalised,” Saint-Josse Mayor Emir Kir said.
Ixelles Mayor Christos Doulkeridis told Bruzz that the municipality was also looking to produce mouth masks in partnership with local manufacturers.
In Forest, Mayor Stéphane Roberti said that he was favourable to the mandatory usage of mouth masks but that such a measure would require the existence of sufficient supplies.
On Wednesday, Auderghem became the latest municipality to officially recommend using masks in public, saying that to avoid depleting medical supplies residents should favour fabric masks.
"I know that it is not the official stance of the [federal] health minister," Auderghem Mayor Didier Gousin said in an online statement. "But if the College of General Medicine recommends wearing a mask (...) to protect one another, I think there is no reason not to use it."
Doulkeridis said that the 19 mayors of Brussels' municipalities should consult with one another in order to come up with a concerted strategy in order to avoid putting pressure on already strained federal mouth masks supplies, under increasing pressure after a series of botched imports.
Despite the move by local mayors in Brussels, federal health authorities said they continued to assert that the use of masks by the general population had "no added value" and that it could even "provide a false sense of security."
The Brussels Times