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Mask requirement can gradually be scrapped, German health minister says

Mask requirement can gradually be scrapped, German health minister says

Mask requirement can gradually be scrapped, German health minister says

Wearing a mask in certain public places like shops or public transport has been mandatory for more than a year now. But with Germany posting its lowest daily coronavirus case rate since September last year, a debate has been sparked about whether the rules are still really necessary. 

Step-by-step lifting of the mask requirement?

Speaking to the Funke Media Group on Monday, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn said he envisaged a step-by-step dropping of the mask requirement. “With regard to the falling incidence rates, we should proceed in stages,” he said. “In a first step, the mask requirement outside can basically be abolished. In regions with a very low incidence rate and a high vaccination rate, the same could gradually be done indoors as well.” 

However, Spahn added that it was always a good idea to wear a mask “if in doubt” - especially while travelling and if meeting people indoors. “There is more safety only if everyone present is either vaccinated or regularly tested,” he said. 

German politicians call for rethink on masks

The debate was sparked on Sunday, when Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht said that the leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states should clarify “whether and where a mask requirement is still proportionate if the incidence figures are low and continue to fall.” The topic was given further impetus by the near-total lifting of the mask requirement in neighbouring Denmark. 

Germany’s pro-business FDP and far-right AfD parties are both calling for a complete end to face-covering obligations, having argued throughout the coronavirus pandemic that restrictions have impacted too severely on people’s freedoms. Wolfgang Kubicki, deputy chairperson of the FDP, recently said that with the incidence rate in Germany now clearly below 35, the state should “not restrict any basic rights” and immediately repeal the mask requirement. 

However, members of the ruling SPD and CDU parties are toeing a more cautious line. CSU regional group leader Alexander Dobrindt said that, when it came to masks, a differentiation needed to be made between inside and outside areas, with the risk of infection still much greater indoors. 

SPD health expert Karl Lauterbach also argued that mask requirements should remain in place indoors for the time being. He said it made sense to lift the outdoor mask requirement in areas with low incidence rates since the risk of “superspreading” was low, but that the same cannot be said for inside areas. 

Abi

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Abi Carter

Abi studied History & German at the University of Manchester. She has since worked as a writer, editor and content marketeer, but still has a soft spot for museums, castles...

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