The German government has reportedly been forced into an embarrassing u-turn over its plans to extend and strengthen an air travel face mask mandate through to April 2023 and will now drop the rules following an internal squabble over the mandate.
Government coalition partner the Free Democrats (FDP) is reported to have pushed for the amendment to Germany’s Infection Protection Act which contains the air travel face mask rules.
The legal powers were only extended by Germany’s cabinet on August 24, but the government had been under mounting pressure to rethink its approach after Chancellor Olaf Scholz was photographed aboard a government plane maskless.
Under the amended laws, from October, passengers on all domestic and international flights to and from Germany would have been required to wear an FFP2 mask (N95 or equivalent) rather than a cloth mask or a less protective surgical mask.
Germany and Spain are the only two remaining countries in the European Union to still require air passengers to wear a face mask. The rules are in contradiction to advice from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) which advised EU member states to drop air travel mask rules back in May.
Mask rules have been dropped in nearly all other public spaces, including in German airports, leading to confusion amongst passengers.
Lufthansa has been lobbying the government to drop the mandate, saying “passengers should be free to decide whether they want to wear a mask or not”.
Germany’s health ministry or Bundesgesundheitsministerium (often abbreviated to BMG) had previously argued that air travel mask rules continued to be necessary as it expected a seasonal increase in COVID-19 infections over the autumn and winter months.
The BMG has not yet confirmed reports that the mask mandate will be lifted, but an official announcement is expected before the end of the week. The ministry will, however, retain the right to reimpose the mandate should infections spike over the winter.
TOTH: One Mile at a Time.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.