Mayor makes mouth masks mandatory at Leuven’s weekly markets

The Mayor of the Flemish Brabant city of Leuven has made the covering of the mouth and nose mandatory at the city’s weekly markets. Mayor Mohamed Ridouani (socialist) told VRT Radio 2 Flemish Brabant that he had taken the decision as “Now that the markets are allowed to open with a full complement of stalls it will also become busier. This is why we have taken this preventative measure”. 

Since the start of the month the rule stating that markets may consist of no more than 50 stalls has been shelved which means that larger markets like the weekly market in the centre of Leuven are now able to operate at full capacity. This in turn makes them more attractive to shoppers and the more people that go to a market, the more difficult it is to maintain social distancing. The Mayor of Leuven Mohamed Ridouani believes that making the wearing of mouth masks mandatory at the weekly Friday market in the centre of Leuven and the Sunday market in the suburb of Heverlee will help curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

He is also certain that the measure will not be overturned by a higher authority as was the case earlier this week when the Mayor of the East Flemish town of Deinze tried to bring in a rule obliging people to wear masks in supermarket in his town.

Mr Ridouani told Radio 2 "This is legal because it applies to a public area. It is a market that the city organises itself and as Mayor I can apply additional rules such as the mandatory wearing of mouth masks. It is different with regard to shops that are operated by private companies and where a Minister can revoke a rule if they see fit”.

"We are going to organise the market in such a way that you won’t be able to get in if you aren’t wearing a mouth mask. We will also be providing masks at the entrances to those that don’t have one with them. The police will also be present keeping an eye on things”. 

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