March 4. 2024. 7:07

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Germany waves pandemic era goodbye, drops mask mandate


Germany is leaving behind the last generally applicable pandemic protection measure as face masks are no longer mandatory on trains as of Thursday.

After a number of federal regions dropped the mask mandate on local and regional trains over the last few months, the federal government followed suit and removed the mask obligation for long-distance trains.

Germany had been one of the last European countries to hold onto the mask mandate in some areas of public life. From now on, COVID-19 restrictions only remain in place for certain high-risk environments such as hospitals and nursing homes.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach, meanwhile, marked Germany’s entry into a new era of pandemic management by dealing out criticism of lockdown measures taken in the early phase of the pandemic – back when the Social Democrat had not yet been in office but had made frequent public appearances calling for tighter restrictions.

Back then, measures to reduce social contact set the wrong standard, he told public broadcaster ZDF, citing kindergarten and school closures as an example.

“These draconian measures – banning people from going out, wearing masks in the open air, closing off children’s playgrounds outside – these were things that would no longer be done today,” he said.

Bavaria’s conservative Health Minister Klaus Holetschek, who was already in office earlier during the pandemic, was quick to defend himself.

“We reacted with a sense of proportion to new developments in the course of the pandemic and made more freedoms possible as quickly as the situation allowed. No one can seriously dispute that,” he said in a statement.

(Julia Dahm | EURACTIV.de)