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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German states likely to keep mask mandate on public transport

Health ministers in Germany's 16 states say that the requirement to wear face masks on local public transport should remain in place throughout autumn and winter.

German states likely to keep mask mandate on public transport

As part of Germany’s planned Covid regulations from October onwards, people will have to wear FFP2 masks on long-distance transport, such as trains.

However, states are able to decide themselves on any mask requirements for local buses, trains, and trams. 

On Monday, state health ministers agreed that they were in favour of keeping the mask mandate on public transport across Germany.

According to the health ministry in Saxony-Anhalt, which currently holds the presidency of the Conference of Health Ministers, the aim is to have uniform rules in all states when it comes to masks on transit. 

It comes after some people raised concerns that Germany would see a patchwork of different rules across the states.

As The Local has been reporting, the Bundestag last week passed a set of Covid regulations that will be in place from October 1st until April 7th 2023.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS – Germany’s new Covid-19 rules for autumn

The plan includes some measures that will apply nationwide, while the states can decide on regional requirements depending on the pandemic situation.

Across Germany, FFP2 masks will be mandatory on long-distance trains and buses as well as in health and care settings, such as GP offices. There will no longer be a requirement to wear masks on planes in Germany.

Approval of the legal framework is still needed from the Bundesrat, which represents the states. That is expected to take place on Friday.