Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès has announced that Belgium’s National Security Council have decided to relax the face mask rules by harmonising them across the entire territory from October.
Masks will no longer be mandatory when going outside, except in crowded places and spaces where the social distance cannot be guaranteed. “Wearing a mask remains very important to contain the spread of the virus,” Wilmès said. “However, it is useless to make them compulsory anytime, anywhere.”
These places will be determined at a local level. “To have a coherent policy across the entire territory, we ask the local authorities to strictly follow up on this measure,” said Wilmès. Additionally, wearing a mask remains mandatory in certain other places such as on public transport, shops or cinemas.
This is despite the fact that Hospital capacity for coronavirus patients in Brussels remains saturated. All hospital beds for patients with the coronavirus in and around Brussels are full already, with the University Hospital (UZ) even transferring patients to a hospital outside the Region.
“With a few exceptions, all the beds in Brussels and the surrounding area provided for coronavirus patients are already full,” Dirk Devroey, dean at the Faculty of Medicine of the VUB told VRT on Saturday. “Plans are being rolled out in all hospitals to free up hospital rooms for coronavirus patients.”
Between 25 September and 1 October, Belgium saw an average of 2,103.3 new infections per day, 32% more than in the previous 7-day period. In Brussels, the average is increasing by 37%, with 465.6 infections recorded in the capital alone within the same time period. Molenbeek-Saint-Jean is currently the worst hit, with 744 new cases per 100,000 inhabitants in the last 14 days.
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