End of face mask requirement in public transport and travel restrictions from 23 may. Face mask only required in hospitals, for doctors and in pharmacies. PLF only required for travellers coming from areas with a new variant of concern.

Face masks. I protect you, you protect me

Wearing a face mask protects you and others from the spread of the coronavirus. It is one of the healthy reflexes that protects us all from the virus. You use a face mask to cover your nose and mouth. When you sneeze, cough or talk, droplets fly around. The face mask blocks the droplets. That way, there is less risk of making someone sick. In other words, wearing a face mask is primarily about protecting others.

Where do you wear a face mask?

A face mask remains mandatory when you are in contact with certain healthcare providers and in certain healthcare facilities, more specifically in

  • general, university and rehabilitation hospitals
  • a physician’s practice
  • pharmacies
  • during home visits by a healthcare provider if a safe distance of 1.5 meters cannot be guaranteed.

This obligation applies to all healthcare providers and staff, as well as patients/customers and visitors from the age of 12.

In other healthcare settings (such as residential care centers, at the dentist, physiotherapist, speech therapist, psychologist, etc.), a face mask is highly recommended if a distance of 1.5 meters cannot be guaranteed.

The obligation to carry a face mask on public transport is no longer applicable.

Wearing a face mask remains recommended on public transport, in indoor areas, in very crowded areas and in places where the distance of 1.5 meters cannot be guaranteed. The use of FFP2 face masks is recommended for medically vulnerable people.

Exceptions

  • The driving personnel of public transport companies and of all buses providing public transport services are not obliged to cover their mouths and noses, insofar as, on the one hand, the driver is well separated in a cabin and, on the other hand, a poster and/or sticker indicates to the passengers the reason why the driver is not wearing a face mask.
  • Face masks may be removed occasionally whilst eating and drinking.
  • When medical reasons make it impossible to wear a face mask, a face shield may be used.
  • Persons who are unable to wear a face mask or a face shield because of a disability, documented by a medical certificate, do not have to comply with this requirement.

Frequently asked questions

    What protection does a face mask offer?
    Wearing a face mask is not primarily about protecting yourself, but rather about protecting others. Conversely, you are also protected if others around you are wearing a face mask.
    For how long can I wear a face mask before I have to change it?
    • Use a new face mask every 8 hours.
    • Is the mask dirty or damp? Then use a new mask straight away.
    • Do you need to talk a lot? Use a new face mask every 4 hours. For example: for a teacher in the classroom.
    How should I put on the mask?
    • First wash your hands thoroughly.
    • Then put on your face mask. Only touch the ribbon or elastic band.
    • Put the mask over your nose first. Attach the top ribbon securely.
    • Pull the mask over your chin. Attach the bottom ribbon.
    • Your nose, mouth and chin should be under the mask. There should be no opening at the sides.
    How should I take off the mask?
    • Only touch the ribbon or elastic band.
    • Have you taken it off? Then wash your hands thoroughly.
    • Do you need to take off the mask for a moment? For example, to drink something. Then place it in a clean spot or put it in a bag that lets air through. Then clean the spot where you placed the mask.
    How should I wear a mask?
    • Are you wearing the face mask? Do not touch it any more.
    • Is your mask not on properly? Then touch only the sides and adjust it.
    • Do not continually take your mask on and off.
    Can I wear the face mask around my neck for a while, to take a drink for example?
    No, because of the risk of contamination. If the mask needs to be removed, for example for a drink, then place it on a clean surface that can be sanitised afterwards. You can also hold it by the ribbons or elastic bands.
    How can I wear a mask if I have a beard and/or moustache?
    Since a face mask serves to protect others, it is not very important if the mask does not fit your face perfectly. Therefore, it is not necessary to shave your beard or moustache.
    What should I do if I have to cough or sneeze when wearing a face mask?

    You can cough in the mask. If you have to sneeze:

    • preferably take off the mask first;
    • sneeze into a paper handkerchief, which you then throw away;
    • put the mask back on after washing your hands. If this is not possible, the face mask must be removed if it is wet or dirty.
    How do I make my own fabric face mask?

    Use the following tips:

    • The most important criterion for your fabric face mask is that it covers the nose, mouth and chin.
    • Use thickly woven fabrics, which provide the best protection.
    • Use 2 to 3 layers of fabric.
    • Use fabrics that are easy to breathe through, such as cotton.
    • Using a filter in your face mask can improve its filter capacity, but it can also make it harder to breathe through. This also makes it harder to wear this mask for a long time. Read all the information on how to use a filter correctly, here (Dutch/French only)
    • Use fabrics you can wash at 60°C.
    • Avoid using fabrics that are too stiff, too warm or irritating.
    • Use two different colours so you can easily see which is the inside of your mask and which is the outside.
    • Choose your face mask in line with what you are going to use it for. A face mask with elastic bands is easier, but also more unpleasant if you have to wear it for a long time. If you need to wear the face mask for a long time, you could opt for one with fabric ribbons. If you only wear the face mask to do some shopping, you could opt for one with elastic bands.
    • Ideally, avoid vertical seams in the middle of your mask.
    • Wash your hands carefully before you start making your face mask.
    • Wash the fabric before and after making your face mask. Pre-wash the fabric, because fabrics can shrink in the wash.
    • Keep your face mask in a clean, sheltered place.

    You can use one of the models below:

    These models were validated by the Risk Management Group, based on the advice from a group comprising experts from Sciensano, the Supreme Health Council, FAMHP, RAG and the FPS Public Health.

    What model can I use to make a fabric face mask?

    There are various models available. We particularly recommend the following models:

    These models were validated by the Risk Management Group, based on the advice from a group comprising experts from Sciensano, the Supreme Health Council, FAMHP, RAG and the FPS Public Health.

    How do you wash a fabric mask?
    • Place used face masks in a sealed cloth bag. Wash the bag with the mask.
    • Wash it with detergent in the washing machine at 60°C with the rest of the laundry.
    • Or boil it in a cooking pot. Only use the cooking pot for the face masks.
    • Have you washed the face mask at too low a temperature? Then iron it at a high temperature.
    • Have you touched a dirty mask? For example, to put it in the washing machine. Then definitely wash your hands thoroughly.
    • Do you want to use the mask again? The mask has to be completely dry first. You therefore need two masks.
    How do you store a clean face mask?
    • Put the cloth bag with the face masks in the same, clean place.
    • Do you want to use a clean mask? Then wash your hands first. Only pick up the mask by the ribbons or elastic bands.
    • Do not put your mask in the fridge or freezer. The cold does not kill the virus. The mask might contaminate your food.
    How do you store a used face mask before washing it?
    Do not leave your face mask lying around at home. Store your used face masks in a sealed fabric bag that you wash along with the mask. Never touch the face mask on the inside. Do not put your mask in the fridge or freezer. The cold will not kill the virus and the mask will risk infecting your food.
    What is a comfort mask or cloth mouth-nose mask?
    A comfort mask or cloth mouth-nose mask is reusable. Such a fabric mouth-nose mask should be washed daily so that bacteria cannot multiply on that mask. You can easily make a fabric mouth-nose mask yourself. Wearing such mask protects others in the first place. Conversely, the wearer is protected if the people around him or her are also wearing a mouth-nose mask. A mouth-nose mask only provides optimal protection if it is worn correctly. In addition, the other rules such as washing your hands and keeping your distance remain important, even when wearing a nasal mask.
    What is a medical or surgical mouth-nose mask?
    A medical or surgical mouth-nose mask is a disposable mask. A surgical mask is thoroughly tested and vetted. It protects others first and foremost. Conversely, the wearer is protected if the people around him or her are also wearing a mouth-nose mask. A mouth-nose mask only provides optimal protection if it is worn correctly. In addition, the other rules such as washing your hands and keeping your distance remain important, even when wearing a nasal mask.
    What is a FFP2 mask?
    An FFP2 mask is a disposable mask. When used correctly, an FFP2 mask should fit closely to the face and also stops aerosols, the tiny droplets floating in the air. An FFP2 mask protects the user from airborne pathogens. For this reason, it is mainly used by medical personnel who often come into contact with corona patients. For civilians, an FFP2 mask is usually not necessary. A mouth-nose mask only provides optimal protection if it is worn correctly. In addition, the other rules such as washing your hands and keeping your distance remain important, even when wearing a mouth-nose mask.
    In what cases is an FFP2 mask recommended?
    In quarantine and isolation, an FFP2 mask is recommended but not required: https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/news/imc-0401/
    The Consultation Committee recommends the use of FFP2 masks for vulnerable persons: https://www.info-coronavirus.be/en/news/occ-2212/