Plans being intensively discussed by the German Chancellery could see people being told to wear masks in all indoor public spaces during the colder half of the year in a so-called “O-bis-O” (Oktober bis Ostern) scheme, Die Welt newspaper reported on Friday.
The idea is to make masks compulsory during the winter months when Covid cases have been higher since the beginning of the pandemic. Advocates of the plan reportedly hope that it will not only slow the spread of Covid but also hinder other lung infections from spreading at a time of year when flu infections are typically high.
The wording would copy the vocabulary of road rules, which require Germans to put on winter tires between October and Easter.
The rules would likely apply in restaurants, bars and shops. It is unclear whether they would be imposed again in schools and kindergartens.
Currently mask wearing is only obligatory on public transport and in medical and care institutions.
The reported plan could be put into a new version of the Infection Protection Act which is set to expire in September.
However, the government is likely to wait on the findings of a scientific commission before it decides which rules to put into the next version of the act, with the commission tasked with telling the government by the end of the month which restrictions have been effective.
The government has so far refused to officially comment on the Die Welt report.
7-point plan for autumn
Speaking on Friday, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach presented his seven-point plan for the autumn when Covid cases are expected to rise, but he made no mention of a possible six-month mask wearing rule.
Lauterbach’s announcement remained thin on detail but included a pledge to use three different types of vaccine to make sure that people received doses that would best protect them.
Other points included developing hygiene concepts for care homes to try and prevent outbreaks among vulnerable residents and a pledge to do everything possible to try and avoid school closures.
“This won’t be a normal autumn,” Lauterbach said, but he stated that ”we want to go into it better than we were able to last year and the year before that.”
He added that the key points of a new Infection Protection Act would be published before the Bundestag goes into its summer recess next month.