ARNHEM / NIJMEGEN – The advice from the regions of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, The Hague and Eindhoven to wear mouth masks in public space is causing a lot of confusion and new discussion. The call to make face protection compulsory is getting louder.
Mayor Hubert Bruls of Nijmegen, like many of his colleagues in the east of the Netherlands, is opposed to the obligation of masks in shops and public buildings. Yet it was Bruls who suddenly came up with a suggestion last Friday to make plastic face screens compulsory for employees in the hospitality industry.
The words of the Nijmegen mayor on Friday ensured that the screens were ordered en masse. But Bruls did not get involved with other mayors. The ordered screens may remain in the box for the time being. Bruls say that additional research will be carried out and that the idea of the screens ‘has not gone away yet’.
For example, the discussion about mouth masks or masks is back now that the infections are increasing. In the past week alone, 1,499 infections were reported in the distribution area of this newspaper, considerably more than the 955 from a week earlier. The number of hospital admissions of corona patients doubled to 19 patients and the RIVM reported seven deaths in our region over the past week. Three corona deaths were reported in Berg en Dal.
Because the infections in the Randstad are increasing even faster, a mouth mask recommendation came into effect yesterday in Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam and Eindhoven.
Shops and institutions in those cities are allowed to refuse people without a mask. But Hema, Jumbo, Albert Heijn announced yesterday that they also allow people without masks. At the same time, the Hornbach hardware store, which includes a large branch in Duiven, advises customers to wear a face mask.
In short, the confusion is great. In turn, industry association InRetail says: there should be an obligation for masks in shops. “Then you have clarity. It also works abroad, ” says director Jan Meerman.
However, Minister Hugo de Jonge stated yesterday that he was awaiting new advice from the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) before taking new measures regarding masks. It is clear, however, that the door to an obligation to mask the entire Netherlands is really open for the first time.
This is striking, because the RIVM always said that mouth masks would barely protect against the virus and are therefore not necessary. This also applies to the plastic masks for the catering industry. Where Bruls states that these screens are not only more user-friendly but also more effective than regular face masks, RIVM is critical of these screens. A spokesperson for the institute says that the masks, which are also not allowed on public transport, can at most serve as a replacement for the homemade mouth masks. “And no more than that.”
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