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Germany: Government Argues About Mandatory Corona Mask Rule on Aircraft

Now that the E.U. authorities are recommending a lifting of the mask rule for airline passengers, Germany’s Transport Minister Volker Wissing wants his country to act accordingly. But the Health Ministry does not agree with him.

Berlin, May 13th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — If it was up the European Union, we would lose our masks on aircraft starting this coming Monday, May 16th, 2022. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recommend an end to the compulsory mask rule for airline passengers. But what sounds simple actually is not.

‘Urgent Requirement’

First of all, this is a recommendation, meaning it is not binding because the E.U. members states actually decide themselves how they want to handle the mask rule on flights. The EASA and the ECDC can send out as many recommendations as they want. By the way: On international flights, the masks will only disappear if both countries involved have decided to go along with the E.U.’s recommendation. As long as masks on passenger aircraft are required in one of them, they need to be worn on all flights to or from any airports in that state.

In Germany, the recommendation has triggered a discussion within Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s coalition government. Transport Minister Volker Wissing is a member of the center-right FDP which has been demanding more ‘freedom’ for people in the ongoing Corona crisis numerous times. He said there was “an urgent requirement for amendment”. Not only does Wissing want to get rid of mandatory masks on airplanes, but also on buses and trains.

Unlikely Scenario

The Transport Minister has support from Lufthansa. According to the company, there is no need for a compulsory mask rule on aircraft because onboard filters clean the air all the time. Lufthansa wants the passengers to decide whether they want to wear Corona masks or not. From the perspective of the aviation industry, it does not make sense to get rid of masks in supermarkets and restaurants while keeping them on aircraft.

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Minister Wissing knows Germany’s Infection Protection Act would have to be amended again if he gets his way. But this does not seem to be a very likely scenario, for now. That is because the German Health Ministry is opposed to getting rid of the masks on passenger aircraft or public transport, also because airplanes, buses and trains are usually crammed with passengers.

Slow Decrease

Besides, the number of new Coronavirus infections might be decreasing slowly, but it is still very high. Since yesterday, 68,999 new cases were registered in Germany. In the past 24 hours, 164 COVID-19 patients died. The Seven Day Incidence decreased slightly, to 485.7.

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