Face masks now also recommended in the office

From now on, Belgium also recommends wearing a face mask in the office, based on the latest advice from the Risk Assessment Group (RAG).

The new RAG advice recommends wearing masks in the office and other enclosed spaces that people share with others who are not part of their own household, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

“Masks should be worn even if the social distance of 1.5 metres can be kept, especially if people sit together in the same room for long periods of time, talk a lot, and ventilation is inadequate or cannot be controlled,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday.

This advice follows the results from research into infection sources, which shows that office spaces remain a source of infection. Additionally, the number of people working from home is stabilising.

Van Gucht stressed that people should not take off their mask when talking with colleagues, or when talking on the phone.

“At work, people often infect each other during a break or lunch,” Van Gucht said. “They want to escape the mask for a while over coffee or a cigarette, have a chat and infect each other.”

Taking a break from wearing a face mask should be done on your own, and preferably outdoors, according to him.

“As a general rule, we would like to reiterate that it is not the type of mask, but how and where we wear it that is most important,” Van Gucht said.

“Masks should be worn by all people over 12 years of age, in the classroom, on public transport, in shops, inside public places, and in the open air when we cannot guarantee distance such as in a busy shopping street.”

Additionally, scarves, neck warmers or bandanas are no longer allowed as an alternative to fabric or disposable masks.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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