Facemasks now required across Brussels region


The Brussels-Capital Region has made the wearing of facemasks compulsory in all public places, as the federal government earmarks €50 million for testing facilities

‘Too complicated to get tested’

As of today, wearing a facemask is compulsory in all public places within the Brussels-Capital Region. The regional government made the decision after the number of known coronavirus cases broke the mark of 50 per 100,000 residents per week. Over the past seven days, Brussels has recorded 54 new cases per 100,000.

Masks are required for anyone over the age of 12 in all public places throughout the region. Exemptions apply when exercising or when carrying out intense physical work in public, such as roadworks and collecting rubbish. People with a disability are exempt but must wear a face shield instead.

Brussels-City mayor Philippe Close (PS), meanwhile, wants to see large-scale coronavirus testing centres set up at Brussels Airport and in major Belgian railway stations, allowing passengers to walk in without an appointment and be done within 15 minutes.

The testing village in Antwerp is a good example of how we can organise the flow of people

- Minister Philippe De Backer

It is “still too complicated to get tested,” he said in an interview with La Libre Belgique. “You have to go to your doctor, who must write out a prescription. If the doctor is on leave, you have to call 1710 or go to the emergency room. In short, it’s too long and complicated.”

To that end, the federal government announced this week that it is spending €50 million to increase coronavirus testing capacities. Public health institute Sciensano estimates that, with the flu season approaching, it will be necessary to carry out up to 70,000 coronavirus tests per day.

Federal minister Philippe De Backer (Open VLD), head of the medical supplies crisis task force, said that more walk-in test facilities, such as the one that opened last week in Antwerp, were the way forward. “We cannot expect GPs to prescribe so many tests per day,” he said. “The testing village in Antwerp is a good example of how we can organise the flow of people. This will be essential in cities.”

Photo ©Benoit Doppagne/BELGA