German justice minister tells states to consider abolishing mask wearing rules

As a response to falling coronavirus numbers, Federal Minister of Justice Christine Lambrecht called on the federal states on Sunday to review whether mandatory mask wearing is still necessary.

German justice minister tells states to consider abolishing mask wearing rules
People in central Berlin wearing masks. credit: dpa | Annette Riedl

The states must clarify “whether and where a mask requirement is still proportionate given that the incidence figures are low and continue to fall,” Lambrecht told Bild Zeitung.

“This also applies to schools, because schoolchildren are particularly affected by the mask-wearing requirement.”

Health offices in Germany reported 1,489 new infections to the RKI on Sunday. A week ago 2,440 new infections were reported. A further 18 deaths were recorded in the past 24 hours. The 7-day incidence stood at 17 cases per 100,000 people.

Bundestag Vice President Wolfgang Kubicki (FDP) went further than Lambrecht, calling for a complete end to mandatory masks.

“With a clear incidence below 35, the government cannot keep restricting basic rights for all citizens,” Kubicki said. “The obligation of general mask wearing needs to end, at any rate outside.”

The FDP politician predicted that, if the states did not quickly end obligatory mask wearing, courts would overturn the regulations.

Kubicki said that states should instead invest in information campaigns which explain how people in subways and crowds can protect themselves with masks.

“People’s own responsibility must once again become a central part of our coexistence – not the constant prescribing of rules of conduct by the state,” he urged.

Member comments

  1. Unfortunately, every time a Country has left the responsibility to their people to act sensibly, the result has been another Wave of infections. This statement is very badly timed.

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EXPLAINED: The new rules on masks that come into force in Germany next week

Several German states announced on Tuesday that they were relaxing rules on mandatory mask wearing. We break down what the new rules are state-by-state.

EXPLAINED: The new rules on masks that come into force in Germany next week
A taped over sign ordering mask wearing in Munich. Photo: dpa | Peter Kneffel

Baden-Württemberg has confirmed that it will relax the obligation to wear masks in schools.

The relaxations will only apply in districts where the seven-day incidence of infection is below 35 cases per 100,000 and there has been no outbreak at the school for two weeks. If that is the case, masks will no longer be required “in classes in all types of schools,” state health minister Manne Lucha said in Stuttgart on Tuesday.

The new rules will come into effect at the end of next week.

Lucha raised the possibility of relaxing the mask-wearing rules in other areas, such as outside in public spaces, in well-ventilated train stations and at bus stops but stopped short of making a specific commitment.

State leader Winfried Kretschmann suggested that the south-western state would move slowly on ending mask-wearing rules. Warning that ending the rules too quickly could end in a fourth wave of infections, he said: “Let’s not be cocky, otherwise we will pay bitterly.”

The southern state of Bavaria has no immediate plans to relax its rules on masks. “I advise restraint here,” said state leader Markus Söder on Monday in Munich. 

Arguing that “premature relaxations have proven to be a mistake in the past,” Söder said “we shouldn’t always disregard everything when the skies clear up.”

Nonetheless, in the state capital of Munich, the requirement to wear masks in the inner city was ended on June 9th.

Berlin has decided to end some of its mask-wearing rules. In the capital, masks will no longer have to be worn on the pavements of shopping streets and in busy squares, as has been mandatory since late last year. Masks still have to be worn in outdoor areas where social distancing isn’t possible.

Masks will also no longer be required outdoors at the zoo, Berlin’s Senate decided on Tuesday. 

But there will be no change to the rules for buses and trains: FFP2 masks will continue to be a requirement on public transport.

The rules in the capital still have to be confirmed but are set to change early next week.

In view of low infection rates in the north of the country, the Hamburg senate has loosened its mask rules. Outdoor mask wearing will now only be required on the weekend in crowded areas.


The port city will keep hold of its mask rules at weekly markets and indoors as well as on public transport. 

In the north-eastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, masks will no longer be required outdoors as of next week. The rule change was confirmed by state leader Manuela Schwesig on Tuesday, who also said that tourists would now only need to present a negative test upon arrival in the state, which is a popular summer vacation destination.

In North Rhine-Westphalia, the state government has relaxed the rules on wearing masks in public transport. From now on a medical mask will suffice where once an FFP2 mask was necessary. Germany’s most populous state has also ended the requirement for children to wear masks inside the classroom.

As of next Monday masks will no longer be required in classrooms in any school in Rhineland-Palatinate. State education minister Stefanie Hubig confirmed the move to DPA on Tuesday.

Hubig said though that masks would have to be worn on the way to the classroom. Meanwhile, the new rule is only valid as long as the seven-day incidence of infection remains below a value of 35, she added.