Face masks in Germany: What are the requirements and potential fines in every state?

Face masks in Germany: What are the requirements and potential fines in every state?
Police officers stand behind a woman with a face mask in Stuttgart on Monday. Photo: DPA
Starting this week, all of Germany's 16 states will make face and nose protection mandatory - with some stricter than others. We break down what's required.

Starting this week, face masks will be required for every Germany states – across the board for public transport and in some states in shops and other public places, as well.

READ ALSO: Face masks to be made compulsory across Germany in fight against coronavirus

The restrictions vary widely from state to state, from not being allowed to enter stores in northern Schleswig-Holstein without a mask, to also making the coverings compulsory in banks and post offices in the central state of Hesse.

On Monday, Germany's transport minister Andreas Scheuer also pushed to make face masks mandatory nationwide in long-distance transport such as ICE and IC trans.

Yet a face mask doesn't just mean a traditional medical mask – many of which are sold out, hard to locate, or even advised against due to shortages among hospital staff.

Rather, it can be any sort of face and nose covering, including scarfs and self-sewn coverings, which Germany's Robert Koch Institute has said can help prevent a person from spreading coronavirus to others.

READ ALSO: 'They could reduce the risk': Germany's public health institute updates stance on face masks

We break down what the restrictions are, and how (if at all) they are being enforced.

Here are the dates in which the mask requirement goes into effect, or has already gone into affect:

  • Baden-Württemberg (valid from April 27th)
  • Bavaria (valid from April 27th)
  • Berlin (valid from April 27th)
  • Brandenburg (valid from April 27th)
  • Bremen (valid from April 27th)
  • Hamburg (valid from April 27th)
  • Hesse (valid from April 27th)
  • Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (valid from April 27th)
  • Lower Saxony (valid from April 27th)
  • North Rhine-Westphalia (valid from April 27th)
  • Rhineland-Palatinate (valid from April 27th)
  • Saarland (valid from April 27th)
  • Saxony (valid since April 20th)
  • Saxony-Anhalt (valid from April 23rd)
  • Schleswig-Holstein (valid from April 29th)
  • Thuringia (valid from April 24th)

Here are the details state by state:

Baden-Württemberg

In the southwestern state, mouth and nose protection must be worn when shopping and on public transport, to be controlled through police and staff.

Those who do not wear a mask will receive a fine of €15 starting on May 4th, said Minister President Winfried Kretschmann (Greens).

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See also on The Local:

Bavaria

Those who don’t wear a mask on public transport and stores starting on Monday will be subject to a fine, according to head of the state chancellery Florian Herrmann (CSU). Offenders can pay €150 if they don't don one of the coverings on public transport or in shops.

However, shop owners could pay as high as €5000 if they don't ensure that their staff use masks, according to Bavaria's updated catalogue of fines.

Both the police and the personnel in buses and trains will then be required to check that the coverings are being worn.

Berlin

Berlin residents are being called upon to wear a mask on public transport. For those who flout the rules, there is currently no fine. So far, said Berlin mayor Michael Müller on Tuesday, most Berliners have stayed disciplined in abiding by the local restrictions. 

READ ALSO: What are Berlin's new rules to ease the coronavirus lockdown?

Berlin interior minister Andreas Geisel wearing a face mask on Tuesday. Photo: DPA

Brandenburg

Berlin's neighbouring state now requires masks on public transport and in stores. However, there will not be a fine for those who don't comply.

Bremen

On Wednesday, northern Bremen became the last German state to announce that masks would be made mandatory for public transport and shopping. No fines will be enforced, however, state authorities have announced.

Hamburg

On Tuesday, the Hamburg Senate decided that from Monday onward the wearing of a mask is now compulsory in the Hanseatic City on public transport, as well as when shopping, at weekly markets, and in elderly and nursing homes. For store owners who don't require that their staff wear a mask, there could be fines ranging from 500 to 1,000.

Hesse

The Hessian state government has decided to make masks mandatory starting next Monday. Citizens will have to keep their mouth and nose protected when using public transport or entering shops, banks and post offices, according to the state chancellery.

A multilingual video on new requirement in Frankfurt and Hesse to wear a mask. Courtesy of Kerry Reddington

The obligation does not apply to children under the age of six or people who cannot wear a mask due to a health impairment or disability. A repeated violation may be subject to a fine of 50.

Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

The northeastern state was one of the first in Germany to enforce the use of masks on public transport last week. However, on Wednesday, it sharpened its rules to mandate their use in shops, as well. Those who don’t comply can be fined up to 25.

Lower Saxony

As with several other states, wearing a mask on public transport and stores will be mandatory as of Monday in the central German state. It’s still unclear how much of a fine will be imposed. 

North Rhine-Westphalia

As of Monday (April 27th), wearing a mask while shopping as well as on buses and trains will be mandatory, the state government announced. The state is leaving it up to local authorities to decide if a fine should be imposed, and how high it should be.

Rhineland-Palatinate

Starting next Monday, it will be necessary to wear a mask in in shops and on public transport. This could be a self-sewn mask, a cloth, or scarf, said State Premier Malu Dreyer (SPD) on Wednesday in Mainz. Those who don't comply can be fined €10, although business owners can be fined €250 for not ensuring that their employees have a face covering.

Saxony

The eastern state became the first in Germany to make masks mandatory in stores and in public transport, starting last Wednesday.

However, there are no fines for violations – rather the state government says it’s relying on the rationale of its residents to carry out the mandate.

A man wearing a face mask while waiting for the tram in Stuttgart. Photo: DPA

Saxony-Anhalt

Already on Thursday, the eastern state began enforcing the wearing of a mask on public transport and in shops. As with Saxony, there won’t be any fines for violations.

Saarland

Starting next Monday, any type of face and nose covering must be worn on shops or in public transport. It’s still unclear whether there will be a fine – and in what amount – for violations.

Schleswig-Holstein

Residents of Germany’s most northern state who don’t use a mask won’t be allowed to enter public transport or go into stores. 

No medical masks should be purchased or ordered from possibly dubious providers on the Internet, advised Health Minister Heike Werner

Thuringia

The university city of Jena in Thuringia became Germany’s face mask pioneer, when it became the first large city in the country to make masks mandatory as of early April, leading several others to follow suit.

Now starting on Friday, residents of the whole state will also be required to wear a mask in stores and on public transport.

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

 


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