When can we abandon the mandatory wearing of face coverings?

In the United States those that have been fully immunised against coronavirus are no longer obliged to wear face coverings. Will this soon be the case here in Belgium? VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’ asked the infectious diseases expert Professor Erika Vlieghe (photo above). 

Professor Vlieghe said that “Sooner or later we will arrive at that stage. Once the epidemic is sufficiently or sustainably under control you can start to pull back the measures. It was never the intention that they should be permanent”.

But when would be the right moment to do this? In the United States around 36% of the population is currently fully immunised. The percentage of Americans that are fully immunised is much higher that is the case among people in Belgium.

Professor Vlieghe believes that 36% is still rather low to start considering the abandonment of face coverings. "This seems rather low to me. We see that epidemiologically speaking things are better under control once you have exceeded 40 to 50 percent immunisation”.  

"However, the situation is extremely fragile, also in the US. It is not only in Europe that we are concerned about the ascendancy of the Indian and other variants”.

Professor Vlieghe also explained that the measures taken in the United State are also designed to boast willingness among Americans to get a jab.

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