Germany to make wearing masks mandatory again all winter

Germany to make wearing masks mandatory again all winter

Germany has made the first step towards the tightening of national coronavirus restrictions in a bid to prevent a new wave of infections during autumn and winter by, amongst other things, proposing that masks are compulsory for all to wear.

In a press release, the country’s Ministry of Health has drawn up a proposal for the further development of the Infection Protection Act (IfSG), which is the legal basis for combating the pandemic.

In it, it states: “Autumn and winter are associated with a seasonal surge in COVID-19 cases and with an increased burden on the health system and other critical infrastructure. Therefore, modified rules are required from October 1st 2022, to April 7th 2023.”

Explaining what the Act includes, the Ministry of Health points out in its statement, that masks would become compulsory in air and long-distance public transport, and masks and a negative test result will remain mandatory for access to hospitals, and full and semi-inpatient care facilities, as well as for workers in outpatient care services.

The exemption will only be for those patients whose treatment prevents wearing a mask. Whereas exemption from the testing obligation will only be for people who are newly vaccinated or newly recovered from the virus.

The German Federal Minister of Health, Karl Lauterbach, said that Germany needs to be better prepared for the Coronavirus this winter, asserting that the adjustments made to the IfSG would make it possible as they include a vaccination campaign with new vaccines, tests and treatment concept, and preventive measures to protect the most vulnerable.

“With the IfSG, we provide the federal and state governments with legally secure tools for pandemic prevention. This includes the nationwide use of masks and targeted testing for people who are particularly at risk. From October 1st, the country can make masks mandatory indoors, and if the situation requires it, masks can also be made compulsory at outdoor events,” he said, adding that the pandemic can only be overcome together.

He also confirmed that a decision on the proposal will be taken by the Federal cabinet in August.

If the proposal is adopted, masks will become obligatory in air and long-distance public transport, and it will then remain up to the Federal States to decide whether they want stricter restrictions in place or not, like making masks compulsory in local public transport and publicly accessible indoor areas.

The Federal States may also reintroduce social distancing rules of 1.5 metres in public spaces, and set upper capacity limits for people for events in publicly accessible interiors.

The question is now, which other countries will consider or do the same?