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Antwerp pharmacists will distribute 600,000 free masks

Credit: Belga

The City of Antwerp is buying one face mask for all its inhabitants aged 12 and older, and distribute them via the pharmacies in the city.

“We are doing this because the people of Antwerp expect a free mask. We are buying reusable face masks,” said Antwerp mayor Bart De Wever on Monday. “Tests have shown that the products from two suppliers are of the right quality. The distribution could take place this month,” he added.

Since 4 May, face masks are mandatory for everyone aged 12 and older on public transport, at school and other places where 1.5 metres physical distance cannot be guaranteed.

Antwerp, like several other municipalities, decided not to wait for the masks that will be provided by the federal government, and is buying 600,000 masks for its residents. The fabric masks will also come with two filters.

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To distribute the masks, the city will work together with all Antwerp pharmacies. All residents will receive a letter from the city in their mailbox, telling them at which pharmacy in their area they can pick it up.

“Distribution will be phased, with different times per each inhabitant. That way, we can avoid a big rush,” pharmacist Geert Van de Voorde said on Radio 2. “We can also explain exactly how to use such a face mask, because if you use it incorrectly, it is not as safe,” he added.

The first 50,000 masks could be supplied fairly quickly, making it possible to start distribution this month, reports Gazet van Antwerpen.

People with walking difficulties or at-risk patients can give their letter to someone else, who can then collect the masks, or have them delivered at home by the pharmacists.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times