EXPLAINED: What you need to know about Bavaria’s new FFP2 mask requirement

As of Monday, it's mandatory to wear a highly-protective FFP2 face mask in Bavaria. Here's what you need to know, from where to get them to where the measure applies.

EXPLAINED: What you need to know about Bavaria's new FFP2 mask requirement
A person wears a FFP2 mask on public transport in Munich. Photo: DPA

As of Monday January 18th, an FFP2 protective mask must be worn in the state of Bavaria on all public transport and when shopping. However, this obligation does not apply to staff, only to customers – and it excludes children up to and including 14 years of age. 

Children and adolescents from the age of six to 14 must continue to wear mouth and nose coverings as before.

Before the measure went into effect, FFP2 masks were already required when visiting relatives in a nursing home. 

READ ALSO: Bavaria orders compulsary FFP2 masks on public transport and in shops

State premier Markus Söder, of Angela Merkel's CDU sister party the Christian Social Union (CSU), announced the changes after a cabinet meeting in Munich on Tuesday January 12th.

He said that the “normal community masks” were for the protection of others during the pandemic. FFP2 masks also protect the wearer.

The aim, he said, was to improve safety in public transport and in the retail trade.

Where can you buy FFP2 masks?

The masks are sold in drugstores, pharmacies and also online. According to the Bavarian Trade Association, prices should range between €1 and €5 each. However, some shops charge more.

The trade association points out that the masks are also available via “Click & Collect” in DIY stores.

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.

Who gets free FFP2 masks?

Following criticism from social organisations and opposition politicians, the Bavarian state government has announced that it will provide a total of 2.5 million FFP2 masks free of charge for people in need. 

A person holding a FFP2 mask. Photo: DPA

The distribution is to be organised via the cities and districts, if possible by the end of next week.

The masks will be mailed or distributed in other ways, said health minister Klaus Holetschek (CSU). The municipalities have data on people with lower incomes, i.e. who are dependent on basic income support. The initial goal is five free masks per person.

READ ALSO: Where and how these risks groups in Germany can get free FFP2 masks

For whom are FFP2 masks available at a reduced price?

At the end of December, the federal government decided to issue FFP2 masks for people over 60 and chronically ill people. In a first step in December, those affected were to be able to get three masks free of charge at the pharmacy. 

Since January 1st, they are set to receive vouchers from their health insurance company for two sets of six masks, each with a co-payment of €2. However, according to pharmacists, the issuing of the vouchers is slow.

How do qualified people get the vouchers for FFP2 masks?

In the course of January 2021, eligible people will receive two coupons for six masks each from their statutory or private health insurers. 

The coupons will be sent out in three installations: first, people aged 75 and over will receive them, then people aged 70 and over as well as people with certain illnesses and risk factors, and in the third mailing all insured persons aged 60 and over.

The first coupon can be redeemed at the pharmacy between January 1st and February 28th, the second between February 16th and April 15th.

Do FFP2 masks have to be worn on regional and long-distance trains?

No. FFP2 masks must be worn on local trains. This obligation does not apply on long-distance trains operated by Deutsche Bahn. Mouth and nose protection is still required, though.

What happens if I am caught wearing a “community mask” instead of an FFP2 mask?

In enforcement and in the assessment of a possible fine, it may be taken into account whether no mask at all was worn or simply not the prescribed mask. That means that fines can vary on a case by case basis.

In the first week, however, there will be a “goodwill week” during which no penalties will be imposed for violations.

Member comments

  1. Adrian, your comment is silly. really, unless you can cite a real person or a real news source, please don’t bother with these hysterics. look carefully. The lack of citations and poor use of English demonstrates that Summit a News is a farce.

    Seems that Im not being hysterical Paul Dobbs.
    Is this ‘news’ source sufficent or does it also lack citations & demonstrate poor english?
    When are people gonna wake up & realise nothing good will come from this.
    First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a socialist.

    Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a trade unionist.

    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
    Because I was not a Jew.

    Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
    -Pastor Niemoller

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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.