Face masks not mandatory for the whole of Brussels yet (but maybe next week); a curfew is off the table 

The Brussels regional authorities have announced that stricter corona measures are underway, i.e. if the threshold of 50 Covid infections per 100,000 residents in a week's time has been crossed. If this is the case, a general obligation to wear a mouth mask will apply to the whole of the Brussels area. If figures don't improve, this could be the case next week already. Checks on the present restrictions will also be stepped up. But a curfew, like in Antwerp, will not be imposed. 

The Brussels Premier Rudi Vervoort and Inge Neven, the head of the Brussels Health Inspection teams, first had a meeting with the different Brussels mayors this morning to discuss a number of corona issues. This took longer than expected, with the press conference eventually taking place a lot later than scheduled. There was good and bad news. 

"We are seeing a clear rise in the number of infections over the past 10 days," Inge Neven said. There was a sharp hike between 30 July and 3 August, but the latest figures are better. This being said, the 'alert phase' of 20 new infections per 100,000 people per week has been reached in as many as 17 of the 19 Brussels municipalities.

Most new infections are being seen in the age category between 20 and 49, which may explain why the number of hospitalisations in Brussels is still relatively low.

What has been decided?

The Brussels Region will use the rolling average of the past week to make a decision about the face masks.

At present, there are 38 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants each week. When this number reaches 50, a general obligation to wear a face covering will be introduced like in Antwerp province.  

At the same time, checks on the present rules will be stepped up, and fines will follow, Rudi Vervoort warned: "We have now reached the punishment phase". Teleworking remains the standard in Brussels. Covid test capacity will be doubled and contact tracing efforts will be increased. No curfew will not be installed like in Antwerp, says Vervoort. "The number of infections in Antwerp is almost three times as high, and there would be legal objections."

Unizo Brussels: "No extra restrictions, but extra checks"

All this was good news for the Brussels cafés, pubs , restaurants and hotels. This morning, the Brussels department of the organisation of the self-employed Unizo had asked the authorities to leave things as they are. "We don't think more restrictions are necessary. We think that the focus should be on guaranteeing checks and fines with regard to the present restrictions", says Anton Van Assche of Unizo Brussels.

He is afraid that extra restrictions could mean the end for self-employed who have made efforts to make their business corona proof. Van Assche says that the big August fun fair at the South Station, the Zuidfoor, shouldn't have been cancelled. "They should have installed tools to monitor the number of visitors."

Top stories