Half of Germans will keep wearing masks after mandates end: poll

One in two Germans say they will keep wearing face masks after Covid mandates end, as politicians discuss when to end compulsory face covering.

Half of Germans will keep wearing masks after mandates end: poll
FFP2 masks in various colours are displayed in a store window in Bamberg, Bavaria. Photo: dpa | Nicolas Armer

Of the 52 percent of Germans who told an INSA poll that they would keep wearing masks, 79 percent said they intended to do so on public transport, 76 percent in shops, and 66 percent on long-distance trains. Around a fifth said they’d keep wearing masks in restaurants and at the office.

Four in ten respondents said that they would stop wearing masks as soon as the mandates are lifted.

Currently mask wearing counts as one of the “basic measures” that will stay in place after most other rules are lifted on March 20th. No time frame has yet been set out for ending mask wearing.

The polling results came as signs of disunity in the German government over when to lift mask mandates emerged over the weekend.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’ Social Democrats (SPD) favour an indefinite extension of mask mandates.

“We must have measures in place that no longer massively interfere with individual lives. Masks, especially FFP2 masks, seems to be a proven means of preventing contagion in public spaces,” SPD Bundestag leader Rolf Mützenich told the Funke Mediengruppe on Sunday.

The Green party, a junior partner in the federal government, also favour an extension of mask mandates.

“I would welcome it if masks were still worn in schools – and elsewhere,” Family Minister Anne Spiegel of the Greens told Bild newspaper on Sunday.

But the third member of the government, the Free Democrats, are wrestling with themselves over whether mask wearing should still be imposed by the state.

“Where and to what extent one wears a mask in everyday life should be the personal responsibility of each individual,” said Free Democrat health spokeswoman Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus. 

“It is especially important that children are able to go about their daily lives without masks,” she added.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann of the Free Democrats, told the Rheinische Post that mask wearing counts as a measure with “high effectiveness and a low intensity” and a continuation of the mandate is thus “conceivable at the moment.”

SEE ALSO: “Berlin needs more understanding for people who can’t wear face masks”

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

With the EU changing its Covid recommendations for flights, there is some confusion around whether people boarding a plane in Germany will still need to wear a mask. Here's what we know so far.

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

As of Monday, the aviation safety agency EASA and the EU health authority ECDC no longer recommend mandatory Covid masks in airports and on planes.

However, if masks are compulsory at the point of departure or destination, this should continue to apply in aircraft as well, they say.

So, what does this mean for passengers boarding flights in Germany? At the moment, not very much at all. 

In Germany, the Infection Protection Act still stipulates that masks have to be worn on long-distance trains and planes. Masks are also compulsory on local public transport.

The previous weeks have seen Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) come out in favour of scrapping compulsory masks – especially on flights.

But so far, nothing concrete has been done to change the Infection Protection Act, which is due to expire on September 23rd. 

READ ALSO: German politicians row over lifting mandatory Covid mask rule

What are the current rules on flights? 

According to the Federal Ministry of Health, masks are compulsory on all flights taking off or landing in Germany.

FFP2 or medical masks must be worn when boarding and disembarking and throughout the flight, though they can be removed when eating and drinking.

Children under the age of six are exempt from the mask-wearing requirement. 

The ministry has argued that the obligation to wear masks also complies with the new EU recommendations. 

What are the rules acros the EU? 

In general, the relaxed EU recommendation does not mean that masks are no longer compulsory on all flights. However, many countries have kept this measure in place as a simple way to reduce infection. 

Europe’s largest low-cost airline, Ryanair, published a list of 14 EU countries in which national laws continue to require the wearing of face masks to prevent the spread of Covid.

Besides Germany, popular tourist destinations such as Spain, Greece, Portugal, Italy and France are included on the list. 

In other EU countries, the airline said it would be dropping mandatory masks on flights, adding that it “welcomed” the relaxed recommendations from the EU health authorities.  

READ ALSO: Will Germany soon get rid of mandatory face masks on public transport?