Cabinet puts together Corona package: FFP2 mask requirement for airplanes and long-distance trains is approaching

The federal government wants to introduce a nationwide FFP2 mask requirement in long-distance and air traffic from October.

Cabinet puts together Corona package: FFP2 mask requirement for airplanes and long-distance trains is approaching

The federal government wants to introduce a nationwide FFP2 mask requirement in long-distance and air traffic from October. The cabinet agrees on new measures, the Bundestag still has to approve them. But most of the regulations, such as a possible mask requirement indoors, are left to the federal states.

The federal government has once again launched stricter state intervention options for an expected corona wave in autumn and winter. The plans approved by the cabinet include a nationwide FFP2 mask requirement on airplanes and long-distance trains. Children between the ages of 6 and 14 and staff should also be able to wear medical masks. In clinics and nursing homes, a mask requirement should apply nationwide, where you should also have to prove a negative corona test before entering.

The federal states should also be able to order further requirements from October 1 to April 7, 2023, depending on the infection situation. This includes mask requirements in buses and trains in local transport and in publicly accessible interiors. There should be a mandatory exception to the mask requirement if you show a negative test when visiting cultural, leisure or sporting events and in gastronomy. Exceptions to the mask requirement can also be permitted with proof of being fully vaccinated and recovered.

The planned rules are based on a concept by Health Minister Karl Lauterbach from the SPD and Justice Minister Marco Buschmann from the FDP at the beginning of August. Lauterbach said: "With this set of tools we can deal with the foreseeable Corona wave in the fall." The countries would be given every opportunity to react appropriately. It remains the goal of Corona policy to avoid high death rates, many lost work days and serious long-term consequences.

The draft approved by the cabinet is now going to the Bundestag and could be decided there on September 8th. The Federal Council then has to agree. Special payments of 1,000 euros per month are new, so that nursing homes will have to appoint officers to take care of vaccinations, hygiene and therapies for those infected with the drug Paxlovid, for example. The facilities should get 250 euros per month for the effort - for employees who take on the tasks alone or in a team, there should be a total of 750 euros.

The corona provisions in the Infection Protection Act were severely reduced in the spring. General mask requirements when shopping or for events and access rules such as 2G and 3G were eliminated. Now it is a matter of connecting the existing regulations, which expire on September 23rd. They are the legal basis for measures taken by the federal states and list possible instruments.

There are already discussions in the coalition about the obligation to wear masks on airplanes. The background is the trip to Canada by Chancellor Olaf Scholz from the SPD and Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck from the Greens. Images from on board the government plane on the outward flight had caused a stir. It showed Habeck and journalists sitting close together without masks. According to a government spokesman, there is no obligation to wear a mask on Air Force flights. All participants of the trip must present a current negative PCR test before departure. In general, according to the existing Infection Protection Act, masks are compulsory for aircraft.

The FDP now wants to negotiate loosening the protection rules for aircraft. Group leader Christian Dürr made this clear in the "Spiegel" and in the "Augsburger Allgemeine". Against the background of the Air Force flight, he asked: "Shouldn't there also be test exceptions on commercial flights, for example? And what about European uniformity?"

The Federal Association of the German Aviation Industry criticized a planned tightening of the mask requirement - according to this, FFP2 masks should be mandatory in the future, so far FFP2 masks or other medical surgical masks have been specified. Managing Director Matthias von Randow told the "Bild" newspaper: "We do not consider a tightening of the mask requirement to be proportionate and incomprehensible." Since she does not exist in any other European country, she is "difficult to place today".

The industry has long been calling for an end to the mask requirement on board. Buschmann said with regard to criticism of the government flight without masks in the "ZDF morning magazine": "I can understand the outrage." He explained on Deutschlandfunk that the pictures gave the impression that different rules applied to the population than to "those up there". "That's why it would of course be politically wiser not to make use of such exceptions, if they exist."

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