Marco Buschmann, the country's justice minister, announced the return of mandatory face coverings in September. He remarked that Germans and foreign tourists alike have to mask up this fall and that the mask mandates would be in place throughout the winter. The proposal for the mandate, which will be submitted to the German parliament that month, will be likely approved by lawmakers and take effect in October.
"The effectiveness of masks for individuals indoors is undisputed," said Buschmann, adding that "a form of mask requirement indoors will certainly play a role in our concept." The justice minister admitted that while the COVID-19 wave in the summer is starting to flatten, mask mandates would still be necessary as a response to a "possible onslaught" in the fall and winter.
German news outlet Die Welt confirmed the return of mask mandates, adding that the proposal is being debated on the Bundestag floor. It noted that such a measure would be necessary, given the increased social mixing in poorly-ventilated enclosed areas.
German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has not issued any comment on the eventual return of face masks. However, his latest recommendations pointed to bolstering mask mandates. Despite admitting that current data "does not justify making mask use a legal requirement," the health minister reiterated the need for the public to adhere to mask-wearing.
Germany has twice backtracked on its reopening plans, before finally dropping all COVID-19 entry requirements in early June. The European nation is one of the world's most visited tourist destinations.
But according to analysts, the mask mandate only sends the message that preservation of personal freedoms is no longer guaranteed even if Berlin has already dropped all pandemic rules. Visitors would be required to wear face masks in a majority of settings – such as bars, restaurants and shops – throughout the fall and winter if the Bundestag approves the mask mandate.
Almost three years into the pandemic, the world is back to square one as mask mandates make a return. This is in spite of growing evidence stating that face coverings are ineffective in curbing COVID-19 transmissions. (Related: Studies show how mask mandates, lockdowns, and COVID vaccines have failed to deliver.)
Aside from Germany, Ireland is also considering a mask mandate to be reinstated in the event of a "possible emergency in winter." Irish Health Minister Stephen Donnelly will be drafting a new order in relation to a nationwide mask mandate, as per an Irish Times report.
Prior to this, Ireland permitted all laws concerning mask usage to expire as it moved to fully reported. However, sources from Dublin confirmed that Donnelly seeks to "draft legislation that could be passed quickly" if the need arises.
Dr. Colin Axon, an adviser for the British government's Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, dismissed masks as mere "comfort blankets entrenching bad behavior." He commented that masks do virtually nothing as the SARS-CoV-2 virus particle is up to 5,000 times smaller than the holes in the mask.
"The small sizes are not easily understood. But an imperfect analogy would be to imagine marbles fired at builders' scaffolding. Some might hit a pole and rebound, but obviously, most will fly through," said Axon.
Meanwhile, a study in Denmark involving 6,000 participants found that "there was no statistically significant difference between those who wore masks and those who did not when it came to being infected by COVID-19. According to the findings of the Danmask-19 study, 1.8 percent of participants who masked up caught the virus compared to 2.1 percent in the control group.
"Any effect masks have on preventing the spread of the disease in the community is small. But overall, there is a troubling lack of robust evidence on face masks and COVID-19," said a report by Spectator about the Danmask-19 study.
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