Germany to Dump Mandatory Mask Rule on Passenger Aircraft

On Thursday, the Berlin Bundestag is supposed to approve Germany’s new Infection Protection Act. Apparently, it will include compulsory mask rules for trains, but not for airplanes. Where is the logic?

Berlin, September 6th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — When the Coronavirus hit Europe and the rest of the world almost three years ago, it brought down aviation, in the truest sense of the word. In Germany, the number of passengers temporarily decreased by 99 percent. Most planes were grounded, the skies were very quiet.

Half-Empty Planes

When the first passengers returned, the airlines wanted to be exempt from the usual Corona rules. At first, they were supposed to leave half of their seats vacant. They refused, saying flying half-empty planes would not be feasible. But they were forced to adhere to the mandatory mask rule. Flight passengers are being squeezed into flying metal birds. Unless they book first class tickets, the distance between them is a few inches only. For a virus like Corona, spreading in an environment of this kind is easy.

Later this week, the Berlin Bundestag is supposed to approve a new version of Germany’s Infection Protection Act. According to Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland, a group of editorial departments, one of Chancellor Olaf Scholz’ two coalition partners, the FDP, insisted on getting rid of the compulsory mask rule on aircraft. This is why it will happen. Other European countries stopped forcing flight passengers to wear masks many months ago.

Power of Authority

The Corona situation in Germany has improved in the past few weeks. The latest wave caused by the Omicron subtype BA.5 seems to be receding, at least for now. According to the Robert Koch Institute, the number of new infections is decreasing. On the other hand, nobody knows how long this will be the case, now that the cold season is coming up. That is why the Ministry of Health will have the power of authority it needs to bring the mandatory mask rule back into passenger aircraft should this step become necessary.

“Vaccinations and masks still are the best protection against the expected Omicron wave”, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach was quoted as saying in several German-language publications. This was why both measures would be put in place. “As long as the pandamic warrants it, the mandatory mask rule on aircraft will fall. But wearing masks there is still recommended. This is not a question of regulations, but of rationality”, Lauterbach said.

Ilogical and Wrong

The new Infection Protection Act is supposed to give Germany’s federal states the authority to put in place a series of anti-Corona rules if and when the infection numbers skyrocket again. And it includes a mandatory mask rule for long-distance trains. Critics say dumping the same measure on aircraft was illogical and wrong.

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Corona Chronology for Germany, 2022
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