Is the mask requirement still necessary?

Covid infection numbers are currently falling steadily in almost all European countries. After the relaxing of restrictions in shops and restaurants and partial relaxations in cultural venues, has the time come to gradually lift the requirement to wear a mask? Commentators are at odds.

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Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

No longer an appropriate protective measure

Get rid of the masks, the Süddeutsche Zeitung demands:

“Because at least outdoors, where infection can be practically ruled out according to the current state of scientific knowledge, the mask no longer makes a meaningful contribution to the fight against the pandemic. All restrictions of fundamental rights - and this includes the obligation to wear a mask - can only be justified if they are absolutely necessary and there is no alternative. Since this is no longer the case, the requirement must be withdrawn. ... Giving back rights and lifting restrictions now would make it clear that fundamental rights are something that is not taken lightly in this country.”

De Telegraaf (NL) /

Be patient and don't lift restrictions too soon

Scientific advisors to the Dutch government have raised the prospect of abolishing the mask requirement. De Telegraaf warns of a yo-yo effect:

“In this positive climate, it's difficult to adhere to the stringent measures. ... Nevertheless, we must exercise restraint and not relax too many restrictions. Because hundreds of coronavirus patients are still lying in hospitals, and people are still becoming seriously ill. It's better to keep up the strict measures a little longer than to relax them now and run the risk of a new wave of infections - the dreaded yo-yo effect. But clearer communication is also required from the government. There is constant speculation about restrictions being relaxed or introduced. ... This confuses and undermines the basis for measures that are (however regrettably) still necessary.”

Tageblatt (LU) /

Keep the focus on safety

Luxembourg's decision to lift the obligation to wear a mask in the schoolyard without any further precautions is incomprehensible, Tageblatt criticises:

“Even if the risk of infection is much lower outside - children hardly keep their distance. Any waiving of important sanitary rules in compulsory contexts in which, moreover, a section of the population that hasn't been vaccinated is moving around, should be ruled out! The preservation of physical safety should be the top priority. Unsubstantiated concerns, meanwhile, should have no place in the debate!”