Mask obligation in Brussels communes will not be lifted

Mask obligation in Brussels communes will not be lifted
Credit: Belga

The obligation to wear a face mask in several communes in Brussels will not be scrapped for the time being, according to Brussels Minister Bernard Clerfayt.

Several mayors took the decision to make wearing a face mask in several streets in four Brussels communes mandatory over the past months, but Minister of the Interior Pieter De Crem has now stated that mayors do not have the authority on regulations on the use of face masks in public.

"If De Crem wants to annul those decisions, he can do so himself," Brussels Minister for Local Authorities, Bernard Clerfayt told Bruzz.

Wearing a face mask is mandatory on certain streets in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert, Woluwe-Saint-Pierre and Etterbeek. In Saint-Josse, masks are compulsory in shops. 

"The ministerial decree strongly recommends the wearing of masks for customers in shops, but does not make it compulsory," De Crem said. "We strive for uniformity," he said.

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According to a circular addressed to the local authorities, they can only deviate from the federal rules if specific situations so require, and after consultation with the federal level. 

This is also why the decision to make masks mandatory in supermarkets in the city of Deinze in the East Flanders province on Tuesday, was revoked not long after.

"If De Crem wants to destroy these municipal decrees, he can and may do so himself," Clerfayt's spokesperson said. "Since the federal phase is still in progress, he does not need to go to a governor or minister for such a decision," she added.

Clerfayt can no longer cancel those municipal decisions himself, "not even if he wanted to," according to his spokesperson. "The possibility to take supervisory measures is limited in time. It has been too long since those councils made those decisions to cancel them now," she said, adding that there have been no complaints so far.

The National Security Council did not introduce an obligation to wear masks in supermarkets or other stores during the press conference when it announced Phase 4, despite many experts thinking the measure would be beneficial.

Maïthé Chini

The Brussels Times

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