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PANDEMIC

Will Germans continue wearing face masks after the pandemic?

Almost half of people in Germany want to continue wearing masks to protect against disease even after the pandemic ends, according to a new survey. Who is in support - and who isn't?

Will Germans continue wearing face masks after the pandemic?
A mask on a coffee table in Quedlinburg, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Matthias Bein

A total of 44.7 percent of people said they were in favour of wearing masks in future, the representative survey by the opinion research institute Civey on behalf of the Augsburger Allgemeine newspaper found. 

And 41.9 percent of those surveyed said they wanted to permanently get rid of the covering over their mouth and nose. The remaining respondents said they were undecided. 

Basic coronavirus measures such as wearing a mask, keeping your distance and frequent washing of hands have also significantly reduced the number of other diseases. A decline was particularly noticeable in infectious diseases, which, like the coronavirus, can be transmitted by droplets and aerosol particles.

According to data, last year there were only around a third of the norovirus cases that were seen in 2019 for instance.

Meanwhile, the flu season of 20/21 was almost completely cancelled – and it came to an early end in spring 2020. This has also already been attributed to the coronavirus measures.

READ ALSO: How people in Germany have embraced FFP2 masks

Who is in support of wearing a mask in Germany in future – and who isn’t?

Whether people will consider wearing a mask after the Covid pandemic also seems to depend on which party the respondents are close to.

Supporters of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) and the liberals (FDP) want to largely do without the masks after the pandemic. Eight out of 10 AfD voters and around two-thirds of FDP voters said they weren’t in favour of using them in future, the survey found. 

Voters of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens see it differently: a narrow majority (around 55 percent for both) want to continue covering their mouth and nose when, for example, the flu season is approaching.

Age also plays a role in whether people want to keep wearing masks after the pandemic. According to the Civey poll, 54.1 percent of people over 65 were in favor. For 18 to 29 year olds, however, a majority (50.5 percent) were against using the mask in everyday life in the future.

And there are also differences between the sexes: While 41.2 percent of men have a positive view of the mask even after the pandemic, the figure is higher – 48.2 percent – for women.

In contrast, 46.7 percent of men reject the mask after the pandemic – and only 37.3 percent of women take that view. 

About 5,020 people were questioned for the survey from May 28th to June 1st. 

Masks become topical again as Covid numbers fall

It comes as parts of Germany are debating rules on mask wearing.

The city of Augsburg in Bavaria has decided that the obligation to wear masks outdoors will no longer be required from Wednesday June 2nd – except for weekly markets where distance cannot be maintained, authorities said. 

Mandatory face masks were brought in across Germany in April last year. The rules were tightened to deal with the worsening Covid situation. For example, masks became mandatory in certain busy streets outdoors in many ares of Germany during the second wave. 

Across the country, medical masks, such as the FFP2 models, which provide more protection than cloth masks, became compulsory on public transport and in shops in January 2021.

But masks are contentious. People protesting against Covid restrictions have continually flouted mask and distance rules during large and frequent demonstrations, leading to pushback from the police. 

How do you feel about wearing a mask after the pandemic ends? Let us know by leaving a comment or emailing [email protected]

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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