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A new pupil wears a sanitary mask during an enrolment ceremony in the Lankow elementary school in Schwerin, Germany - FELIPE TRUEBA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock
A new pupil wears a sanitary mask during an enrolment ceremony in the Lankow elementary school in Schwerin, Germany – FELIPE TRUEBA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

Amid rising infection rates and the threat of a second coronavirus lockdown, German Education Minister Anja Karliczek has called for compulsory masks to be worn in schools when summer holidays end in August.

There were 955 new infections in Germany on Saturday, numbers not seen regularly since the start of May. Some of the country’s most prominent politicians have expressed concern that a second lockdown may be imminent if infection rates continue to climb.

Currently, schools are required to enforce social distancing measures, however Ms. Karliczek acknowledged that this is likely to be difficult – meaning masks should be worn.

The minister said she understood “if states want to forego distance rules in schools because the spatial conditions would otherwise only allow classroom instruction to a limited extent.”

“Nevertheless, classroom instruction will only work if further regulations on hygiene, wearing protective masks and keeping clear in the schoolyard and in the hallways are strictly observed.”

Anja Karliczek, German minister for Education and Research puts on a face mask during her visit to the Hamburg-Eppendorf university clinic - Pool/Reuters
Anja Karliczek, German minister for Education and Research puts on a face mask during her visit to the Hamburg-Eppendorf university clinic – Pool/Reuters

In Germany, the 16 federal states are responsible for putting in place coronavirus measures and penalties for failure to comply.

Three German states, Berlin, Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, have announced mask requirements will be put in place when school resumes in mid-August.

North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous state and the one hardest-hit by the pandemic, has said masks are voluntary while in Hesse and Saxony it is at the discretion of schools.

While masks have been required in public transport and shops since April in all German states, the country has been reluctant to put in place a similar rule in schools.

In France masks have been required in schools for all pupils 11 and older since April and have also been compulsory for several months in China, South Korea, Japan, Vietnam and Israel.

A pupil wears a sanitary mask as she leaves the school building during an enrolment ceremony in the Lankow elementary school in Schwerin, Germany, - FELIPE TRUEBA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock
A pupil wears a sanitary mask as she leaves the school building during an enrolment ceremony in the Lankow elementary school in Schwerin, Germany, – FELIPE TRUEBA/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock/Shutterstock

Several prominent politicians spoke out over the weekend to implore the population to comply with social distancing and hygiene requirements.

Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier said he was concerned about ‘rising irresponsibility’ among the population and said to avoid a second lockdown harsher penalties should be imposed for anyone breaching the mask requirement.

“Anyone who deliberately endangers others must expect that this will have serious consequences for them,” Mr. Altmaier told the German Press Agency.

Bavarian leader Marcus Söder told Bild: “We have to reckon with Corona coming back at us with full force. If we are not careful, we can have a situation like in March.”

 SPD leader Saskia Esken said “I simply see the realistic danger of a second wave.”



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