Most representatives of the federal states reacted rather negatively to the attempts by Federal Minister Christine Lambrecht (SPD) and Jens Spahn (CDU) to lift the corona mask requirement.

Lambrecht had asked the federal states to examine the proportionality of the mask regulations in view of the falling number of infections;

Spahn said that if the incidence values ​​of the infections continued to fall, “in a first step the mask requirement outside could be dispensed with”.

In regions with a very low incidence rate and high vaccination rates, the obligation to cover the mouth and nose can then "gradually" be lifted indoors, "said Spahn to the newspapers of the Funke media group.

Johannes Leithäuser

Political correspondent in Berlin.

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    The Chancellor is apparently rather skeptical of the view of her federal ministers.

    The deputy government spokeswoman Martina Fietz said the regulations should not be relaxed too quickly, especially indoors: "We all have more of it if we are a little more disciplined and careful".

    She reminded of new virus variants that could be dangerous.

    But if the number of infections continues to fall, protective measures would have to be lifted “bit by bit”.

    Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) also did not want to follow Lambrecht's and Spahn's suggestions for the time being.

    Söder said he advised restraint.

    The latest opening steps in Bavaria are only a week old, it is not yet certain "how it all works".

    In addition to vaccination, wearing the masks is one of the few effective tools in the fight against the pandemic.

    Söder indirectly criticized the authors of the relaxation proposal;

    He said: "I think it is a shame when the federal government, without any competence in the matter and without any competence, makes a proposal to the federal states."

    Because: Do not give the impression that the pandemic is over

    Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) also urged caution.

    He told the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, "we shouldn't give the impression that the pandemic is over".

    He demanded that the mask requirement in local public transport must be maintained until the end.

    The SPD health politician Karl Lauterbach advocated loosening the mask requirement outdoors, but maintaining it indoors until 70 percent of adults had complete vaccination protection.

    Lauterbach said he is currently against the repeal of the mask requirement in schools.

    For the current school year "it wouldn't be nice if the children were infected before the summer vacation".

    The German Teachers' Association opposed a quick lifting of the mask requirement.

    Association President Heinz-Peter Meidinger said that "the greatest possible caution" must continue to be exercised, especially during lessons;

    the virus has “not yet disappeared from the scene.

    So far, only half of the teachers had full vaccination protection

    The parliamentary group leader of the Left Dietmar Bartsch pleaded for the end of the mask requirement in schools after the summer vacation: "The younger the children, the faster the mask should disappear from everyday life," Bartsch told the newspaper Welt.

    It is also "absurd" to make it mandatory to wear masks outdoors for any longer.

    Lindner calls for an immediate end to masking requirements outdoors

    The party and parliamentary group chairman of the FDP, Christian Lindner, also spoke out in favor of ending the mask regulations outdoors immediately.

    Lindner advocated a “timetable out of the mask requirement”.

    Where the situation eases, “restrictions on freedom must fall step by step”.

    The chairman of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, Andreas Gassen, fundamentally doubted the effectiveness of wearing protective masks. He said the sense of the measure had always been questionable. In the “outside areas, a mask requirement can actually be eliminated immediately,” said Gassen of the Rheinische Post. In indoor areas, it makes sense to keep mask protection where there is contact in a confined space and it is unclear whether everyone who is there has been vaccinated.

    Doctors, infection and epidemic researchers warned on Monday against a swift abolition of mask regulations. The Göttingen physicist Eberhard Bodenschatz said the virus was still there and, due to its mutations, much more infectious. The aerosol researcher Christof Asbach called the abolition of the mask requirement in the open "easy to understand". The risk of being infected indoors is “naturally higher” without a mask. He appeals to people's common sense to protect themselves in critical situations regardless of guidelines.