Berlin (dpa) – Hartz IV recipients must each get ten free FFP2 masks, and for children in poor families, job centers will soon be paying laptops for lessons at home.
Federal Minister of Social Affairs Hubertus Heil (SPD) and Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn (CDU) announced Thursday in Berlin. Background to the plans are the new corona restrictions for buses, trains and shops, as well as the ongoing school closures. According to a Jan. 19 federal state decision, self-sewn makeshift masks or drapes should no longer be allowed, instead FFP2 masks or the cheaper surgical masks should be worn. Support from poorer people has been welcomed by the opposition and civil society organizations.
According to plans, about five million basic security recipients should be entitled to the free masks. Those affected would now “soon” receive a letter from their health insurance, as Spahn said. With this and the identity card, the masks could then be collected from the pharmacy within two weeks. “It is important that in this situation we have the whole of society in mind and do not leave social dividing lines behind,” said Heil. Necessary protective equipment should not be a matter of your wallet. It will be put on the road as soon as possible.
The SPD politician also announced that from next week the job centers will be ordered to cover the costs of tablets, laptops or printers so that children in families dependent on basic security can participate in the current so-called distance learning. What the schools propose or prescribe will be adopted, Heil said. The federal government had already launched a $ 500 million program for laptops for needy children. This is supplemented by this.
The federal government had already launched a program for free masks to protect at-risk groups. About 34 million citizens aged 60 and over and people with chronic illnesses receive vouchers for 12 FFP2 masks that can be redeemed at pharmacies. A personal contribution of two euros is payable per six masks. For the turn of the year, three free FFP2 masks were also made available to those affected.
The German Caritas Association welcomed the plans. “This is an important step,” said Caritas president Peter Neher on Thursday. He also enlisted the help of other groups: “Even refugees and undocumented migrants – an estimated at least 180,000 – should be able to receive these masks,” said Neher.
FDP social policy spokesman Pascal Kober said the delivery of basic security receivers with FFP2 masks should have been delayed. The Greens also spoke of a late step. “Free masks can only be a first step,” said group spokesman for social policy Sven Lehmann and deputy group chairman Anja Hajduk, said a joint statement. Request a corona fee of 100 euros per month for adults and 60 euros for children for the basic security as soon as possible.
The demand for pandemic financial compensation for those who received Hartz IV was also raised by the left, social associations and the social wing of CDU. Bavaria’s Minister of Health, Klaus Holetschek (CSU), recently joined the initiative.