This month the German government extended its mask mandate for travel through April 2023. But this week German Chancellor Olaf Scholz flew to Canada and went maskless. The government response? His plane was exempt because it was operated by the German Air Force.
[M]ore than 80 passengers were accompanying Scholz and Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck, who was photographed talking to journalists while unmasked on their flight to Montreal.
Masks for thee, but not for me. To be sure they’re German and can read the rules literally, they didn’t impose the mask mandate on themselves so didn’t violate the mandate. Or so they say: “Germany’s Infection Protection Act does not specifically mention such an exemption.”
🇩🇪 German Chancellor @OlafScholz & Minister Habeck arriving with a delegation incl. journalists into #Canada.
😷 Not a mask in sight, contrary to current laws & regulations.
They're all laughing at us. We must completely ignore any iota of winter restrictions. pic.twitter.com/pWL4F9j13y
— STOPCOMMONPASS ❌ (@org_scp) August 22, 2022
To the extent that masks remain protective against current variants that spread more easily than earlier iterations of the virus that causes Covid-19, only the best quality masks are likely to do so. Germany requires at least FFP2 masks, so cloth masks aren’t acceptable as they were in the U.S. However they’re also less helpful in aircraft (given HEPA air filtration, rapid air refresh, and downward air flow) than in most indoor congregant settings.
At this point in the pandemic, where vaccines which reduce the severity of infection at a minimum are broadly available, a mask requirement no longer makes sense. Vaccination plus prior Omicron infection is highly protective, even against reinfection by BA.4 and BA.5. But in Germany the requirement continues for ordinary citizens and not the privileged elite whose revealed preference is against wearing them. Europe’s CDC no longer advises inflight mask requirements.
Of course Chancellor Scholz’s timid policies towards Russia, and unwillingness to develop energy independence, are far more deplorable than his refusal to wear a mask. And none of this compares to former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder’s actually lobbying on behalf of Russia since the Putin government invaded Ukraine. So Germany has far bigger fish to fry than masks.