Flemish Youth and Education Ministers oppose Federal Health Minister's call for the mandatory wearing of face covers by the over 9s

The Flemish minister responsible for youth policy Benjamin Dalle (Christian democrat) and the Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts (national) have both expressed their opposition to a proposal by the Federal Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Flemish socialist). In recent interviews Mr Vandenbroucke reducing the age at which the wearing of face coverings in certain places and situations becomes mandatory to anyone above the age of 9. 

The Flemish Youth Minister Benjamin Dalle told VRT News that "You shouldn’t underestimate what the mandatory wearing of face coverings means for young children. They are still fully engaged with their speech development. This means that them wearing a face covering isn’t something that is completely innocent. This is why I am saying be careful about this”. 

Mr Dalle told VRT Radio 1’s morning news and current affairs programme ‘De ochtend’ that policy makers should stop “targeting” children and young people.  

"It disturbs me that every time that there are issues with the virus, we start looking at children and young people again. As adults we must do everything that is necessary ourselves to ensure that the virus circulates less. But as regards children and young people, that don’t put the health system under strain and have already done an awful lot to protect their grandparents, you shouldn’t impose any extra measures",Mr Dalle said. 

The Flemish Education Minister Ben Weyts too is opposed to Mr Vandenbroucke’s proposal. He is concerned about the impact that the wearing of face coverings by younger children will have on their education and also asks himself whether they would wear the face coverings correctly. Moreover, schools have already taken extra measures to curb the spread of coronavirus both with regard to ventilation and limiting the number of social contacts.

"After the successful vaccination campaign, we can’t justify imposing stricter than ever measures on children, stricter even than during the lockdown. Because even then face coverings weren’t mandatory for small children.  One measure that we would like to see taken quickly is a booster jab for all staff working in primary and nursery education”, Mr Weyts said. 

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