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.
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.
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.