Germany plans to make face masks mandatory at airports

Germany plans to make face masks mandatory at airports
A flight attendent in Cologne for Eurowings. Photo: DPA
All airports around Germany are planning on introducing a mask requirement for passengers and employees as travel increases over the summer.

Airport authorities and operators have drafted a proposal of safety measures for airports, reported Spiegel Online on Sunday.

The draft hones in on face masks in order to allow airports to handle more passengers over the summer months, especially in areas where it's difficult to maintain a 1.5 metre distance.

These include at the security check areas, the airport and shuttle buses, and the baggage reclaim at the taxiways.

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The mask requirement is slated to come into effect before Germany's repeal of an EU-wide travel warning on June 15th, according to Spiegel.

READ ALSO: Germany to lift travel warning for EU countries from June 15th

After that, a large spike in passengers is expected – air traffic had slumped to as low as one percent of its normal level during Germany's lockdown in April and May at some airports, such as Berlin's Tegel.

Up until this point, Germany had only issued a general recommendation that people keep their nose and mouths covered at airports – as is required countrywide in supermarkets and on public transport. 

A passenger and employee at Cologne's airport on May 27th. Photo: DPA

The only exception to the mask requirement would be zones where passports are checked. Children under six years of age would also be exempt from wearing a mask, according to the draft.

The EU had also already proposed compulsory masks at airports as part of a proposal for safer summer travel. 

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

However, some of the draft measures coming from Brussels – above all keeping the middle seat in airplanes free – have been rejected by the aviation industry as economically nonviable. 

Several airlines, including Lufthansa, have already introduced a general obligation to wear masks on board. Large airports around Germany, such as those in Stuttgart, Munich, Düsseldorf and Berlin, also require the face coverings in their terminals.

The Federal Ministry of Transport also wants to introduce regulations to ensure more distance at airports.

For example, markings at counters and vending machines will be set up to indicate a distance of 1.5 meters. Airlines are also to open as many counters as possible to minimize queues.

Germany’s state-owned railway company Deutsche Bahn also requires that employees wear a mask, and recommends that passengers use one.

READ ALSO: How the coronavirus pandemic is changing train travel in Germany

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