Belgium to Make Indoor Mask Wearing Mandatory

BRUSSELS (AP) -
A worker from Textilia haberdashery walks through rolls of fabrics that can be used to make customized protective face masks, on the first day of the easing of lockdown measures during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Brussels, Belgium, May 4. (Reuters/Yves Herman)

Wearing a face mask will become mandatory from Saturday in Belgian shops, entertainment venues and other indoor spaces.

The Belgian government said the decision was made following a meeting of politicians and experts in charge of the lockdown exit strategy who decided to follow recommendations issued by the Health Ministry’s scientific advisory body.

The compulsory use of masks already implemented on public transportation will be extended to conference centers, places of worships, museums and libraries.

Masks remain optional for children under the age of 12 in all circumstances.

The government said places that won’t respect the decision could be shut down, while Belgian residents who won’t follow the new guidelines will face penalties.

Belgium has been hard hit by the pandemic, with 9,781 deaths recorded in the small country with 11 million inhabitants. The number of infections has however nosedived over the past two months, with about 85 new cases recorded every day over the past week.