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Every resident will receive face mask by next week, PM says

© Belga

All residents in Belgium will begin receiving a fabric face mask from next week, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said on Thursday.

In a radio interview, Wilmès said that the government’s face mask order will arrive this weekend, more than a month after the government made their use mandatory in public transport.

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The distribution to residents will then begin from the start of next week, she added, with Justice and Deputy Prime Minister Koen Geens confirming the news in a separate radio appearance.

The masks will be distributed to the public via pharmacists, according to Geens.

The news follows a string of mishaps and miscommunications on the arrival of the mask order, which officials scrambled to place in April after weeks of saying the generalised used of face masks was not necessary.

As officials held back on making face masks mandatory or even recommending their use, Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block, who had vocally opposed making their use obligatory, came under fire following news that she oversaw the destruction a strategic federal stockpile containing millions of face masks.

The federal government’s face mask order arrives weeks after local officials moved to equip residents by placing mask orders of their own or turning to citizen volunteers to produce them.

In Brussels, individual mask orders by municipal mayors were followed by a larger order placed by regional authorities, with the incoming federal order meaning that some residents will have been provided with at least three face masks.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times