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Flemish Brabant brings back masks

© David Samyn

Flemish Brabant – the region stretching from the edge of Brussels to Antwerp region – is the latest to announce it will be stepping up coronavirus fighting measures beyond the country-wide recommendations.

This decision comes following consultation between Jan Spooren, governor of Flemish Brabant,  and the 65 mayors of the province. Under the new push, compliance with existing measures will be a priority, in an effort to slow the areas rapid rise of infections seen in recent weeks.

Face Masks Become The Norm, Again

The obligation to carry a face mask will be extended, with new measures meaning they will once again become the norm, with an expanded list of places where they will once again be required or recommended.

People should “definitely wear a mouth mask in public buildings, at markets and fairs and as spectators at sports competitions,” said Spooren. “And now that All Saints and Souls’ Day is approaching, it was also decided that a face mask is mandatory in cemeteries during this period”.

Additionally, the governor recommended that mayors make face masks mandatory again in school and leisure settings.

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“We can say that a school setting, but also the local gymnasium for example, are “busy places” where at certain times a lot of people gather,” said Spooren. “I, therefore, advise the mayors to introduce the face mask obligation there by means of a mayoral decree.

Sports Canteens Close Once Games End

Unlike Brussels, the region will keep sports canteens open, with two additional measures. “The municipal and police departments will check more to see if the measures are adhered to in the canteens,” the governor clarifies.

“If that does not happen, the canteens can be closed. In addition, a canteen may remain open for up to half an hour after the last sporting activity. Although I do make an exception here for the canteens that have a permit to eat. The local authorities can also grant motivated exceptions to this.”

Restaurants Stay Open

The federal measures for the catering industry will also stay the same, albeit with additional measures.

“Once again I have asked for stricter monitoring of compliance with the measures in the hotel and catering industry,” said Spooren.

Teleworking Becomes The Norm

According to the governor, teleworking should also once again become the norm in the province.

“Together with all mayors, I call on all businesses and employers to reintroduce teleworking as the norm. This will enable us to reduce the number of contacts and therefore the risk of contamination”.

Events

In general, municipalities will also be able to refuse more events, especially in light of Halloween and the holiday season approaching fast. “A more restrictive interpretation of the event matrix will enable municipalities to check event applications more strictly.

The Brussels Times