Hanover (dpa) – Lower Saxony, after widespread criticism, including from the federal government, is likely to be rooting for the short-term removal of the mask requirement in low-incidence retail.
“The state government will very seriously reconsider this point,” said government spokeswoman Anke Pörksen in Hanover on Friday. A decision is expected in the afternoon. In response to criticisms, Health Minister Daniela Behrens (SPD) said on Twitter, “There will be no lifting of the requirement to cover mouth and nose in Lower Saxony.”
A draft for a short-term relaxation of the corona rules aims to lift the mask requirement from Tuesday after Pentecost in regions with a stable seven-day incidence below 35. Since the plans were announced the day before, the government has received many critical reactions from the population. and shop staff, says Poerksen. “There has been intensive thinking since then.” Although the relaxation step was already included in a step-by-step plan that was presented almost two weeks ago, it did not lead to discussion because an incidence of 35 still seemed a long way off, says Poerksen.
Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn promoted careful opening steps and continued important protections with distance and masks. “Our impatience should not ultimately lead to cheerfulness,” the CDU politician said in Berlin on Friday. He is under the impression that “weekly easing is currently taking place in some countries”. However, it has been agreed between the federal government and the states to wait two or three weeks for possible follow-up steps and to see what consequences this has for the infection process. In view of protective masks, Spahn said, compared to other things, this is a tedious yet manageable measure, which has now become a part of everyday life for the vast majority.
Meanwhile, the federal government dismisses a possible relaxation of mask-wearing rules in Germany as premature. There is reason enough “not to let this effective drug get out of hand,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert said in Berlin on Friday. Wearing a mask and keeping your distance are “the simplest and most effective means” of protecting you from infection.
In Lower Saxony, the incidence over seven days is 47.1. Nationally, 67.3 per 100,000 people are currently infected with corona within a week. Seibert recalled that last summer’s values were just a few numbers. This “lowest level” has not yet been reached. There is much to be said for “maintaining the basic rules of distance, hygiene, mask and ventilation”. The pandemic is not over yet.
The chairman of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lothar Wieler, said there is increasing evidence that masks are also effective in everyday situations. If it were now relaxed, “basic protection” would have to be maintained by everyone as far as possible from a distance, hygiene and masks.
Patient advocates criticized a relaxation of the mask requirement. “No product is sold in Germany just because the mask requirement in the retail sector is falling,” said Eugen Brysch, board member of the German Patient Protection Foundation, Friday. Mouth and nose protection is the simplest hygiene rule as long as not enough people have been vaccinated. There was also outrage and misunderstanding on the social networks. Under the hashtag «#diemaskebleibtauf», many Twitter users posted that they would not agree to a relaxation.
The president of the Society for Aerosol Research, Christof Asbach, made it clear that the incidence of seven days ultimately only gives an indication of the likelihood that you will encounter an infectious person in, for example, shops. As long as there is a risk of infection, measures such as wearing a mask and ventilation should remain unchanged from an aerosol-physical point of view. “What incidence, but what action to take, is a purely political compromise that cannot be justified or countered in terms of aerosol science,” Asbach told the DPA.
The FDP group leader in the Lower Saxony state parliament, Stefan Birkner, accused the state government of a hesitant course. Yesterday the health minister issued a draft ordinance abolishing the mask requirement, today she tweeted that at least nothing like that would be. “People’s belief in the reliability of political decisions is once again being shaken.”