After an argument about masks within Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey’s three-way government coalition, new regulations will probably be approved next week. The Berlin Senate wants to have uniform mask rules in Germany. This is another reason for the delay.
Berlin, October 19th, 2022 (The Berlin Spectator) — If Berlin’s Health Senator Ulrike Gote had gotten her way, mandatory mask rules in public buildings would have been announced this week. The Senate Health Administration, which basically is the city state of Berlin’s Health Ministry, believes today’s regulations are insufficient considering the high number of new infections and that of Corona patients in intensive care.
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Governing Mayor Franziska Giffey was not happy about Ulrike Gote’s recent call for stricter mask rules, according to reports in German-language media. The Senator had gone public only a day after a Senate meeting without discussing it with Red City Hall first. This is one reason why an argument developed, which gave the opposition at the Berlin House of Representatives a good opportunity to voice criticism. The ‘Tagesspiegel’ daily quoted Christian Zander of the conservative CDU. He accused the Senate of having created an “embarrassing mess”.
Mrs. Giffey’s government sees another reason for postponing the decision about the mask rule by a week. On Thursday, the subject will come up at the Conference of First Ministers. This meeting provides a good chance for agreeing on a uniform, nationwide regulation on masks in public buildings. Since Corona hit Germany in early 2020, the country’s sixteen federal states have put in place different regulations too many times. Citizens were confused or angered, or both. Acceptance is an important aspect.
Supermarkets and Venues
Berlin’s Finance Senator Daniel Wesener stated the Senate would use the time it had until next week to prepare, and to inform the people who needed to put the new measures in place. At this stage, masks have to be worn in public transport, clinics, care homes and similar facilities only.
Before this month is over, the compulsory mask rule could be extended into supermarkets and other shops, cultural venues and other public places. Many experts, including Germany’s Federal Association of Doctors, demand this kind of approach. On Tuesday, the organization’s chairman told the ‘Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland’ federal states needed to put in place rules of this kind right now. Otherwise, Germany’s health system could be overburdened.
Changes on October 29th
Berlin’s new mask rule might be put in place at the end of next week. First, thirteen First Ministers, two First Mayors and Berlin’s Governing Mayor will discuss the matter at the Conference of First Ministers. Next week, the Berlin Senate might agree on it. Once there is a decision, it needs to be announced in Berlin’s official bulletin which is published on Fridays. That is why Saturday, October 29th, 2022, will likely be the date. At this stage, most Berliners do not wear masks at supermarkets voluntarily, which they easily could. Many do not even wear them on trains, buses or trams, in spite of the fact that they are required to do so.