Germany likely to impose mask mandate if Covid spreads in winter

Germany is likely to introduce an indoor mask mandate if there is a significant increase in the number of cases of Covid-19 in the upcoming autumn and winter months, health ministers said at a meeting, though they differed over possible exemptions.

The federal and state health ministers discussed draft legislation aiming to update regulations for dealing with the pandemic, dpa news agency reported.

“It is clear that mandatory masks indoors should be the rule in the event of a tense pandemic situation,” said Health Minister Karl Lauterbach.

Last week, Lauterbach and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann presented new coronavirus measures that would go into effect in the autumn.

Among other things, their draft calls for masks to remain compulsory on long-distance trains and planes nationwide, along with rules requiring masks to be worn in hospitals and care facilities.

State governments are to decide for themselves whether they will also require masks in publicly accessible indoor areas.

Some state ministers had criticized plans to make people exempt from the regulation if they had had a vaccination against Covid-19 within the past three months, for example, saying this is difficult to implement.

The Ministers also identified areas where further clarity is needed, for example on “who can be vaccinated, with which vaccine this is possible, and how long the protection lasts”, said Bavarian Health Minister Klaus Holetschek.

The meeting came as Germany’s Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for disease control and prevention said the nation’s seven-day incidence rate of cases per 100,000 was 381.5, although the number is thought to be higher.

The RKI said 170 people had died of Covid-19 in the past day.

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