Germany has made the first step towards the tightening of national Coronavirus restrictions in a bid to prevent a wave of infections throughout autumn and winter by, amongst others, proposing to the government to make masks compulsory for all.
The country’s Ministry of Health, together with the Ministry of Justice, has drawn up a proposal for the further development of the Infection Protection Act (IfSG), which is the legal basis for combating the pandemic.
“Autumn and winter are associated with a seasonal surge in COVID-19 cases to be expected – and with an increased burden on the health system and other critical infrastructure. Therefore, modified connection rules are required. The proposal provides for a legal basis adapted to the situation from October 1, 2022, to April 7, 2023,”
Explaining what the Act includes, the Ministry of Health points out in its statement that if Germany adopts the proposal, then masks would become compulsory in air and long-distance public transport.
At the same time, masks and COVID-19 negative test results will remain mandatory for access to hospitals and full and semi-inpatient care facilities, as well as for workers in outpatient care services.
Exempt from the obligation to wear a mask will be only patients whose treatment prevents wearing a mask. Whereas exempt from the testing obligation will be only newly vaccinated and newly recovered from the virus.
Commenting on the proposal, the German Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach noted that this winter, Germany needs to be better prepared for the Coronavirus, asserting that the adjustments made to the IfSG would make it possible as they include vaccination campaign with new vaccines, test and treatment concept, and preventive measures to protect the most vulnerable.
“With such an IfSG-stage model, we provide the federal and state governments with legally secure tools for pandemic prevention. This includes the nationwide use of masks and targeted testing for people who are particularly at risk. From October 1, the countries can use the mask requirement indoors. If the situation requires it, masks are also compulsory at outdoor events, and there are upper limits in public spaces,” he said, adding that the pandemic can only be overcome together.
According to the Ministry, a decision on the proposal should be taken by the Federal cabinet in August.
If the proposal is adopted, masks will become obligatory in air and long-distance public transport. It will then remain up to the Federal States to decide whether they want stricter restrictions in place, like making masks compulsory in local public transport and in publicly accessible indoor areas. Also, making testing compulsory in certain community facilities like those accommodating asylum seekers, detention facilities, children’s homes, as well as schools and day-care facilities.
The Federal States may also impose an obligation to keep a distance of 1.5 meters in public spaces and set upper limits for people for events in publicly accessible interiors.