Half of Germans will keep wearing masks after mandates end: poll

One in two Germans say they will keep wearing face masks after Covid mandates end, as politicians discuss when to end compulsory face covering.

Half of Germans will keep wearing masks after mandates end: poll
FFP2 masks in various colours are displayed in a store window in Bamberg, Bavaria. Photo: dpa | Nicolas Armer

Of the 52 percent of Germans who told an INSA poll that they would keep wearing masks, 79 percent said they intended to do so on public transport, 76 percent in shops, and 66 percent on long-distance trains. Around a fifth said they’d keep wearing masks in restaurants and at the office.

Four in ten respondents said that they would stop wearing masks as soon as the mandates are lifted.

Currently mask wearing counts as one of the “basic measures” that will stay in place after most other rules are lifted on March 20th. No time frame has yet been set out for ending mask wearing.

The polling results came as signs of disunity in the German government over when to lift mask mandates emerged over the weekend.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz’ Social Democrats (SPD) favour an indefinite extension of mask mandates.

“We must have measures in place that no longer massively interfere with individual lives. Masks, especially FFP2 masks, seems to be a proven means of preventing contagion in public spaces,” SPD Bundestag leader Rolf Mützenich told the Funke Mediengruppe on Sunday.

The Green party, a junior partner in the federal government, also favour an extension of mask mandates.

“I would welcome it if masks were still worn in schools – and elsewhere,” Family Minister Anne Spiegel of the Greens told Bild newspaper on Sunday.

But the third member of the government, the Free Democrats, are wrestling with themselves over whether mask wearing should still be imposed by the state.

“Where and to what extent one wears a mask in everyday life should be the personal responsibility of each individual,” said Free Democrat health spokeswoman Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus. 

“It is especially important that children are able to go about their daily lives without masks,” she added.

Justice Minister Marco Buschmann of the Free Democrats, told the Rheinische Post that mask wearing counts as a measure with “high effectiveness and a low intensity” and a continuation of the mandate is thus “conceivable at the moment.”

SEE ALSO: “Berlin needs more understanding for people who can’t wear face masks”

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Block Telegram to prevent ‘Covid terrorism’, demands Bavarian leader

Bavarian leader Markus Söder has called on the German government to "shut down" the messenger service Telegram in order to stop the emergence of "Covid terrorists."

Block Telegram to prevent 'Covid terrorism', demands Bavarian leader

Söder said that Germany could make Telegram inaccessible via geo-blocking, a method of making some online services unavailable in specific regions.

“In other parts of the world, Telegram may be a channel for democracy. In our country, it’s a channel for insecurity and fake news,” he said.

Claiming that Telegram was “by some distance” the platform moist used to spread hate, he expressed the concern that it could be used to form violent resistance groups against lockdown measures.

“We can’t allow for the formation of a ‘Covid RAF’ for who violence is acceptable,” he said referring to the Red Army Faction, a left-wing cell that terrorised Germany in the 1970s.

“Closed groups of conspiracy theorists are emerging on platforms like Telegram. Whenever more absurd fake news is sold there as truths, there is a danger that individuals will develop a supposed moral right of resistance from it.”

The German government has been putting pressure on Telegram to close down channels that spread conspiracy theories or where unregistered protests against Covid rules are organised.

Last week, the company shut down over 60 such channels, including one belonging to the vegan chef Attila Hildmann, who has gained notoriety for his extremist views during the pandemic.

“Telegram must no longer be an accelerant for right-wing extremists, conspiracy theorists and other agitators. Death threats and other dangerous messages of hate must be deleted and have legal consequences,” interior minister Nancy Faeser said last week in comments made to the Süddeutsche Zeitung.