Covid-19 masks to return, German minister says
Germans will be required to wear face masks indoors again this autumn as part of new measures aimed at stemming the spread of Covid-19, Justice Minister Marco Buschmann has said.
The summer wave of Covid-19 is already “losing momentum” in the country, “but we have to take very seriously what awaits us in autumn and winter,” Buschmann said in an interview with Berliner Morgenpost on Friday.
The minister said the government was “thoroughly” preparing to tackle the virus, and was confident that effective countermeasures would be finalized by the end of July. These would be discussed with the authorities in Germany’s 16 states next month and sent to parliament in September.
“The effectiveness of masks for individuals indoors is undisputed. That’s why a form of mask requirement indoors will certainly play a role in our concept,” he said.
According to Buschmann, the cabinet has been already working on developing mask requirements for public transport.
However, the minister pointed out that Germany’s new anti-Covid rules would be “proportionate” and aimed at protecting not just the people’s health, but also their fundamental rights.
“We agree within the coalition that there will be no more lockdowns, no blanket school closures and no curfews. These are inappropriate tools in the third year of the pandemic,” he said.
“Carelessly locking people up at home or bringing public life to a standstill” would be imitating “Chinese conditions,” said Buschmann, who is a member of the anti-lockdown, liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP).
He was referring to strict lockdowns introduced in Wuhan, Shanghai and other Chinese cities during the pandemic.
The previous German government of Chancellor Angela Merkel also resorted to lockdowns and curfews in 2020 and 2021 to stem rising infections.
Such measures are unjustifiable because of “high mental and socio-psychological effects, not to mention the consequences for the education of young people… A millstone was put around the neck of a whole generation of pupils and students,” the justice minister said.
Earlier this week, World Health Organization head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on countries to reinstate “public health social measures like masking, distancing and ventilation.”
The pandemic is “nowhere near over,” he insisted, pointing to the rising number of Covid-19 cases this month. During the week of July 4-10, over 5.7 million new infections were reported, a 6% increase compared to the previous week.