Covid-19: Belgium, Spain to make face masks mandatory
Face masks are going to be compulsory from Saturday onwards in Belgium’s shops, cinemas, entertainment venues and other indoor spaces. The mandatory use of masks implemented previously on public transportation will be extended to business convention centres, places of worship, museums and libraries.
For children under the age of 12, wearing masks is optional in all circumstances.
The Belgian government decided on this 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 government also said places that won’t respect the decision could be shut down, while Belgians who won’t follow the new guidelines will face penalties.
Belgium has been hard hit by the coronavirus 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.
Masks obligatory in Spain
Following the footsteps of Catalonia and the Balearic Islands, the Spanish region of Extremadura is making the wearing of masks obligatory.
Spain’s lockdown ended mid-June, but the number of new daily cases has been surging in some areas.
Authorities in Extremadura, southwest of Madrid, announced Friday the region had 66 active cases. Everyone over 6 years old must wear masks when outside or when in enclosed public spaces, even when complying with social distancing rules, this Saturday onwards.
The introduction of mandatory mask-wearing in the Balearic island group in the Mediterranean Sea from Monday has angered business associations there. The islands, including Ibiza, Mallorca and Menorca, are a popular European vacation destination.
The Confederation of Balearic Business Associations says the regional government is imposing tighter restrictions than potential vacationers have in their home countries and that the step will discourage visitors.
Disneyland passes new rule
Major Paris attractions such as the Versailles palace and the Louvre museum are reopen for the public but with strict rules in place. Disneyland Paris, Europe’s most visited theme park, scheduled to reopen soon will also limit capacity and impose a minimum distance of one metre between visitors to prevent Covid-19 infection risk. Disney staff and visitors over age 11 are required to wear a face mask, but visitors are allowed to feel the fun and scream their hearts out on the rides.
The theme park authorities also has a team called the Incredi-Crew who will be ensuring that all safety guidelines are followed.
Possibility of Covid-19 in the air
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has long dismissed the possibility of coronavirus being airborne except for certain risky medical procedures, such as patients on breathing support.
The WHO recently noted that studies evaluating Covid-19 outbreaks in restaurants, fitness classes and others suggested that the virus might be spread in the air.
Airborne spread “particularly in specific indoor locations, such as crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a prolonged period of time with infected persons cannot be ruled out,” said WHO.
-- with inputs from Associated Press