Where and how these risk groups in Germany can get free FFP2 masks

The German government has started the distribution of FFP2 masks to 27 million people in Germany who are over 60 years old or have certain pre-existing conditions.

Where and how these risk groups in Germany can get free FFP2 masks
FFP2 masks being handed out on Wednesday from a pharmacy in Oberhausen, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Each of them is to receive 15 masks over the winter to protect against coronavirus infections.

This applies to health insurance patients as well as to private patients, according to a draft regulation of the federal Ministry of Health.

When will the masks be available? 

The first three masks have been available in pharmacies since December 15th. To do so, people must prove their age on the basis of their identity card or passport or declare in a self-assessment that they suffer from a pre-existing condition.

READ ALSO: WHO warns of Covid-19 'resurgence' and urges families to wear face masks at Christmas

From January, the remaining twelve masks will be available: six masks can be collected through February 28th and six more through April 15th. 

In the new year, those eligible must also present a certificate from their health insurance company or private health insurance.

A pharmacy employee shows off a FFP2 mask, and how to put it on. Photo: DPA

How well does the mask protect? 

While everyday masks (ie. those made of fabric) protect others, FFP2 masks also protect the wearer – but not 100 percent, so the wearers must also continue to observe distance and hygiene rules.

However, the masks filter 94 percent of airbourne particles.

The masks do not have to and should not be changed daily, but can be used several times. They must not be washed so as not to destroy the filter function.

For which pre-existing conditions are the masks available? 

In addition to those over 60, people who qualify for the masks are those with Asthma, chronic heart or kidney failure, stroke, type 2 diabetes, active or metastatic cancer, cancer therapy that weakens the immune system, organ or stem cell transplantation, or women with a high-risk pregnancy.

What is this costing Germany?

The federal government is spending a total of €2.5 billion on the procurement and distribution of the masks. Pharmacies receive six euros per mask for procurement, storage and dispensing.


Member comments

  1. It is “airborne” and not “airbourne”.


    transported by air.
    “airborne pollutants”

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EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

Due to high Covid infection numbers throughout the summer, it’s now possible to get a sick note from a doctor over the phone again for some illnesses. Here’s what you need to know.

EXPLAINED: The new rules around getting a sick note over the phone in Germany

What’s happened?

In spring 2020, German authorities changed the law so that people with a mild upper respiratory tract illness, such as the common cold, were able to get an incapacity to work certificate or AU-Bescheinigung by simply calling and speaking to their GP.

The rule was extended several times and finally reversed on June 1st this year due to falling infection figures. Since then people have had to go back to the practice – or do a video call if the doctor’s office has that system in place – to get a sick note.

Now, due to a decision by the Joint Federal Committee, the regulation has been reintroduced and patients can call their GP again for a sick note.

Can I get a sick note over the phone for any illness?

No. As before, the regulation only applies to patients suffering from a mild upper respiratory tract illness. Though Covid has not explicitly been named in the announcement, it seems that it is intended to be covered by the regulation.

If the doctor is convinced that the patient is unfit for work after a telephone consultation, then they can issue a sick note for up to seven days.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: The changes around doctor’s notes in Germany you should know

If the symptoms persist after seven days, the certificate can be extended once more for another week.

Why now?

According to the Chairman of the G-BA, Josef Hecken, the regulation has been introduced now as a response to rising Covid numbers and in anticipation of the cold and flu season in the coming months: “We want to avoid full waiting rooms in doctors’ offices and the emergence of new infection chains,” he said.

The telephone sick leave rule is a simple, proven and uniform nationwide solution for that, he said. The rule is also necessary because video consultation hours are not yet available everywhere.

What else should I know?

The health insurer DAK is calling for telephone sick leave in the case of light respiratory diseases to be made possible on a permanent basis in Germany. DAK’s CEO Andreas Storm said that this should “not always be up for debate, because it has proven itself.” 

READ ALSO: Everything you need to know about making a doctor’s appointment in Germany

The social association VdK also welcomed the reintroduction of the rule. The VdK’s President Verena Bentele said that the regulation would help to protect high-risk groups in particular from potential infections.

What are the rules to know about sick notes in Germany?

Germany has a strict system in place. If you are sick, you need to give your employer a Krankmeldung (notification of sickness) before the start of work on the first day (of your illness).

However, you also need to hand in a Krankschreibung (doctor’s note) on the fourth day of your illness. Some employments contracts, however, require you to submit a sick not earlier than the fourth day so check with your boss or HR on that point.