Germany agrees nationwide €50 fines for flouting face mask rules

Germany agrees nationwide €50 fines for flouting face mask rules
A mask sign in Germany. Photo: DPA
A uniform nationwide fine of at least €50 will be slapped on people who don't wear a mask when it's obligatory, a government draft agreement states.

That's according to a draft plan put together by the government ahead of a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel and state premiers on Thursday.

In view of the increasing number of new coronavirus infections, Merkel, of the centre-right Christian Democrats (CDU), wants to tighten measures to stop the spread of Covid-19 in Germany.

The new regulations, set to be approved later in the day, will apply nationwide and include a minimum fine of €50 for people who don't wear a mask when they are required to.

As part of the measures to stall the spread of the virus, people in Germany must wear a covering over their face and mouth when riding on public transport and in certain closed areas such as shops.

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However, states have differed hugely on how they deal with people who flout rules. Some states have been imposing strict checks and fines, while others have chosen not to.

Penalties have varied wildly, from €40 in Hamburg to €250 in Bavaria.

READ ALSO: Why a row has broken out in Germany over face masks

Meanwhile, the western state of North Rhine-Westphalia decided earlier in August that those caught without a mask on public transport face paying an on-the-spot fine of €150.

Earlier in the summer, the Berlin public transport service, Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), said their staff had spotted around 30,000 violations of the mask rules in three weeks.

The mask obligation (Maskenpflicht) has also proved controversial, with some people saying the rules on wearing face coverings should be loosened to encourage more people to go shopping to support businesses.

A poll by The Local Germany showed huge support for face coverings during the crisis, with 89 percent of readers on our Facebook page supporting the measure.

 

For the first time since June, state premiers of the federal states are discussing the coronavirus strategy in Germany with Merkel.

The draft agreement states that large events will be banned until December 31st, private parties should be limited to 25 people and free coronavirus tests for people returning to Germany from non-risk areas will be abolished after summer.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus – Five things to look out for in Germany this autumn

What's Germany's official stance on masks during Covid times?

The government says that to protect people at close proximity, states “have introduced rules on wearing non-medical mouth and nose masks, called community masks, when travelling on public transport and when shopping”.

Rules on wearing mouth and nose masks have differed from region to region, so the government urged people to check the rules where they live. The new rules should provide some clarity on these differences.

“At all times, even if you wear a mouth and nose mask: keep at least 1.5 metres away from others, practice good hand hygiene and adhere to sneezing and coughing etiquette,” says the German government advise. They also urge people not to buy medical masks such as FFP 2 and FFP 3 for private use.

“These should be kept for medical staff only,” says the advice.

People who can't wear a mask for medical reasons do not have to do so. They can receive a note from their doctor to explain the situation if needed.


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