Brussels makes face masks mandatory on high street and pedestrian zone

Brussels makes face masks mandatory on high street and pedestrian zone
Rue Neuve in Brussels on 11 May, the first day of shop reopening after the coronavirus lockdown. Credit: Jules Johnston/The Brussels Times

Wearing a face mask will be mandatory from 27 July for anyone walking through the Brussels' pedestrian zone or in the bustling Rue Neuve.

Brussels 1000 Mayor Philippe Close announced the new measures after officials at the National Security Council (NSC) meeting tightened rules to slow the rising curb of new Covid-19 infections in Belgium.

"Even if the figures for new infections for the City of Brussels remain low today, I call on our people and on visitors to be and remain vigilant," Close said.

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"I emphasise once again that compliance with the measures imposed by the government is essential for everyone," he added.

Enforcement of the use of face masks will begin next Monday as officials ready the legal framework to impose the measure, Bruzz reports.

Fines for failing to respect the measures will be applicable from Monday, according to Close's spokesperson.

Police and community patrols, as well as teams from the Bravvo prevention service, will from Saturday make rounds to raise awareness on the use of face masks in those areas.

Close's announcement comes after the NSC moved on Thursday to make face masks mandatory in bars, cafés and restaurants and in other crowded public places.

The mayor also said that face masks would be made mandatory on street markets, flea markets and on fairgrounds.

The announcement by Close comes as mayors of other Brussels municipalities state that they are aiming to roll out a common face-mask policy in all areas of the capital.

The NSC face mask rules on Thursday mark a sharp turn from the body's initial stance on the use of face masks by the general public.

As the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic hit Belgium, and amid grave shortages of face masks and other protective gear, several high-level officials had stated that the generalised use of face masks was not necessary.

Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block and state virologist Steven Van Gucht said several times that masks were not needed or that they were of "little use" for healthy people.

Gabriela Galindo

The Brussels Times

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