End of Belgium’s face mask obligation not yet in sight, says Vandenbroucke
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End of Belgium’s face mask obligation not yet in sight, says Vandenbroucke

Credit: Jules Johnston/The Brussels Times

While a number of relaxations are planned in Belgium for the coming weeks, the end of the obligation to wear a face mask is not yet in sight, according to Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke.

Wearing a mask still protects people against the virus in public places, on public transport and in shops, and Vandenbroucke stressed on RTL-TVi this weekend that it will remain important.

The end of the obligation “is not for right away,” he said. “I think if we have enough people who have been vaccinated twice, and are therefore fully protected, that it can be lifted.”

This will likely be in September or October, according to Vandenbroucke, who added that only if people get together with a group of friends and everyone is vaccinated, masks are not necessary, echoing statements from Friday’s Consultative Committee.

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However, Brussels Minister-President Rudi Vervoort will meet with the 19 mayors of the Capital Region to analyse the consequences of the Committee’s decisions, and the general face mask obligation will be on the table.

In particular, the enforcement of the rule in the public space will be discussed, as Vervoort said after Friday’s Committee meeting that “now is the time to think about whether we should keep this measure or not.”

Deciding to lift the obligation now, however, could “perhaps be a bit premature,” according to Vandenbroucke, who did not yet dare to say anything about the situation in schools after the summer.

The situation will have to be evaluated further before any meaningful announcement regarding schools after the holidays can be made, he said.