Mouth masks could be made mandatory in shops if the number of infections starts to rise

The discussion about where and when mouth masks should be worn is far from over. Moreover, the Federal Health Minister Maggie De Block (Flemish liberal) told the VRT’s Sunday morning news and current affairs programme ‘De zevende dag’ that if the figures on the coronavirus pandemic start to take a turn for the worse the (re)introduction of other measures to curb the spread of the virus could be on the cards. Ms De Block also criticised those that had taken part in illegal street parties.    

Earlier this week the National Security Council decided that while the wearing of masks is “strongly advised” in shops it will not be made compulsory. This is despite a number of experts such as Marc Van Ranst and Steven Van Gucht having said that they are in favour of masks being mouth masks made mandatory in shops.        

The woman that heads the group of experts that advises the government on its lockdown exit strategy Dr Erika Vlieghe agrees. Dr Vlieghe says that the most recent figures on the novel coronavirus in Belgium show the effect of a society that is opening up again.

However, she told ‘De zevende dag’ that "You can’t say whether this is purely due to mouth masks not having been made mandatory. But what is true is that you can create mouth mask awareness. Making them mandatory would have the advantage of being clear”.

Meanwhile, Ms De Block stress that rules and measure can always be revised. The figures relating to the evolution of the epidemic are followed closely. If there is a negative evolution the rules will be tightened.  

"But then it won’t just be about mouth masks”, the Health Minister warned. “Other measures would also be required”.