Deputy PM confirms that not everyone will have been sent a mask by 4 May

The Flemish Christian democrat Federal Deputy Prime Minister Koen Geens has told VRT News that it won’t be possible to provide everyone living in Belgium with a mouth mask before Monday 4 May. It is from this date that everyone over the age of 12 that uses public transport in Belgium will be obliged to cover their nose and mouth. 

The covering of noses and mouths is to become compulsory on public transport due to the difficulty and in many cases impossibility of maintaining social distancing when travelling on busses, trains, metros and trams.

During last Friday evening’s press conference at which the lockdown exit stategy was announced, the Federal Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès (Francophone liberal) said that everyone living in Belgium will be isuued with at least one standard mouth mask and two filters free of charge. The filters can be used in masks that have been bought or made by people in their homes.

However, achieving this before next Monday appears to be something of a tall order and it has since become clear that not all of us will have received our mask by 4 May. Furthermore, as of 8am on Monday morning an order for the masks still had to be placed.  

Deputy Prime Minister Koen Geens told VRT News that “Starting up domestic production that would be able to provide enough masks for everyone so quickly is not possible”.

The Defence Minister Philippe Goffin (Francophone liberal) will place an order for the masks. However, on Sunday the Flemish liberal Federal Minister Phillippe De Backer told journalists that 12 million masks had been ordered. On Monday morning Mr Geens explained that the order had not yet been placed.

However an order for the filters was placed on Friday. Two companies, one in Flanders and one in Wallonia have been given the contracts to make the filters. They are due to be delivered between 4 and 20 May.

Mr Geens added that “In there meantime there are other options such as making a mask yourself”. A tightly woven scarf or a bandana is another alternative.

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