Division over national implementation of FFP2 masks

Source: WDR

FFP2 masks that are already mandatory in Bavaria since January 18, could soon become compulsory all over Germany.

Since the start of the pandemic, there has been a lot of debate about which type of mask is the most effective, with the latest development being the introduction of mandatory FFP2 masks in Bavaria. FFP stands for filtering face piece, which describes the properties of this model in a nutshell: The filter in the masks makes it less likely for individuals to catch COVID-19, whereas surgical masks only grant limited self-protection.

Overall there seems to be a lot of uncertainty around the wearing of face masks. “The main difficulty is to make the implementation of these masks appear logical to citizens. Supermarket employees for example are only required to wear surgical masks. Asking them to wear FFP2 masks all day would violate standards of occupational safety. This however creates confusion and frustration on the part of customers who are required to wear FFP2 masks,” says Margarete Troll-Fass, who works for the ministry of health in Bavaria.

In Bavaria, it is mandatory to wear FFP2 masks in all indoor spaces and on public transport already. The failure to abide by the rule results in a fine of 250 euros. According to Troll-Fass police are checking people on the street at random. “I believe that fining people is the way to go. Some won’t listen without rules being enforced on them,” she says.

To contain the spread of the coronavirus and in particular its mutated variant, the passing of a bill that makes it compulsory to wear FFP2 masks for people all over the country is being debated.

As of January 24 surgical face masks, which are more loose fitting than the FFP2 model, have become compulsory in Berlin. Master student for leadership, people and organization Linda Gehring who lives in the capital is concerned about the prospect of having to wear FFP2 masks. “I understand that we have to do something to keep the virus at bay but when I heard about this new potential rule I honestly had to laugh out loud. How are they going to realize this? How are people supposed to pay for these masks?,” she says.

Prices for FFP2 masks go up to 42 euros per piece, however according to Margarete Troll-Fass it is possible to obtain them for a fraction, “if people bother to do their research” about where to purchase them.

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