In Belgium, face masks are mandatory from Saturday in many more places, including restaurants, cafes and supermarkets. In Maasmechelen they go a step further and are also required in busy shopping streets and markets.
The number of infections in Belgium rose sharply last week. That is why the government decided last Thursday to introduce more measures. For example, the wearing of mouth masks in several places was also mandatory. Everyone in Belgium aged twelve and older must wear a mask in shopping streets, public buildings, in markets, flea markets and fairgrounds, when moving around in a catering business and in all busy places. The local authorities are about the latter places.
Terwingen has decided to require masks in advance in several places in his municipality: “That will be Maasmechelen Village, the N2, the shopping center and the area around the old shopping area.” The mayor has taken measures to alert everyone to the extra measures. “As of today, there are large signs on the places where face masks are mandatory. In addition, we will of course check. Anyone who does not comply with the rules around the mouth masks or other matters can be fined up to a maximum of 250 euros.”
The ECDC, the European Center for Disease Control, released a map on Friday with the usual colors for countries and regions that are dangerous for corona. Flanders has changed from yellow to orange on that map. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has still assigned code yellow to Belgium, which makes travel possible. Terwingen therefore finds the arrival of Dutch people no problem. “The Dutch are of course welcome, that goes without saying. It has always been, except for the short period that the borders were closed.”
Terwingen would also like to keep the borders open, unlike a few months ago. “At that time, Belgium and the Netherlands had different measures, which meant that there was a different risk of infection. I thought the border closure was necessary at the time. It now mainly comes down to coordinating the measures well.” The countries now have almost the same measures and around the differences that exist, Terwingen asks people to adapt. “When Belgians come to Geulle or Meerssen, they have to adapt to Dutch rules, and the same applies when Limburgers come to Maasmechelen.” The Belgian mayor does advocate a European minimum in terms of rules. “A minimum that every European must adhere to and that applies throughout Europe. Then you can always see locally whether you need to do something more in certain countries.”