Jena becomes first German city to make wearing a face mask mandatory

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Jena becomes first German city to make wearing a face mask mandatory
A man wears a facemask while shopping in Berlin on March 18th. Photo: DPA

The eastern German city of Jena will be the country’s first to make wearing a face mask mandatory.


Starting at the beginning of next week, “wearing a mouth and nose protection will be mandatory in Jena’s shops, public transportation, and buildings with public access,” wrote city officals in a statement.

The measures were called for by the city’s health department, with the aim of increasing the safety of people in areas “where a minimum distance [of 1.5 metres] can not be maintained.”

READ ALSO: Coronavirus: How to do social distancing in Germany

The city said that there was already a basic supply of masks for nursing staff, doctors and other needed professions such as bus drivers. 

It called on people to make their own masks if a professional one was not available, and said that other types of face coverings such as scarves would also be acceptable as long as they cover the nose and mouth. 

On Monday, Austria also announced that shoppers in supermarkets will have to wear face masks in order to further clamp down on the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Jena has more than 110,000 residents and is the second largest city in the state of Thuringia.

As of Tuesday morning, Thuringia had 784 confirmed coronavirus cases - 119 of them in Jena - and six deaths from the virus.

Germany-wide there are 66,885 cases, according to data from Johns Hopkins University and the Robert Koch Institute

A Facebook post from the city of Jena announces the new measures.

To wear or not to wear?

Wearing a mask to protect oneself from coronavirus remains a debated subject. 

There is no indication that there would be any benefit, said World Health Organization (WHO) emergency aid director Michael Ryan in Geneva on Monday. On the contrary, there are additional risks if people take off the masks incorrectly and possibly get infected in the process.

Yet following Austria's lead, Social Democrat (SPD) politician and health professor Karl Lauterbach said he was in favour of such a regulation in Germany.

"From a medical point of view, I personally consider such a provision to be very reasonable", the University of Cologne epidemiology professor told the editorial group “RedaktionsNetzwerk Deutschland" on Tuesday. 

"In fact, the importance of masks for containing the spread of the coronavirus was initially greatly underestimated," said Lauterbach.

According to a survey from the group, there are currently no plans in Germany’s 16 states to enforce a similar measure. 


Mouth and nose protection: (der) Mund-und-Nasen-Schutz

shop/sales outlet - (die) Verkaufsstelle 

To call for something (ie. a measure or protocol)  - anmahnen 

Minimum distance - (der) Mindestabstand

Basic supply - (der) Grundvorrat

caregivers/nursing staff - (die) Pflegekräfte

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Comments (2)

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Anonymous 2020/04/06 23:27
I don't understand how mask-wearing can be obligatory until masks are available for buying, or there is a clear instruction on how to make a decent mask yourself.
Anonymous 2020/03/31 21:16
I think face masks are a very good idea however, unless you make your own you cannot get them. I paid over 50 euros for 3 N95 ones which are due to arrive next week (4 week delivery time) i would be quite happy to pay for a good supply form the Health service.

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