FFP2 masks. According to a federal-state decision of 19 January, self-sewn makeshift masks or cloths are no longer allowed on public transport or in stores; instead, FFP2 masks or the cheaper surgical masks must be worn/Photo: AfricanCourierMedia

Germany: Government announces free FFP2 masks for Hartz IV recipients

Because of the stricter coronavirus containment measures in force requiring medical masks to be worn on public transport and while shopping, the federal government wants to support those in need: Hartz IV recipients are to receive ten free FFP2 masks each

Around five million recipients of basic benefits (Hartz IV) are to receive ten FFP2 masks each, Social Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) and Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) announced in Berlin on Wednesday. Those affected would receive a letter from their health insurer. With the letter and the identity card, the masks could then be collected from a pharmacy.

Heil explained that it was important to keep the whole of society in mind in this situation. People on basic benefits usually had no reserves and may be able to afford to buy medical masks, he explained.

In the current situation, it is also a matter of “not leaving a social divide” in the Corona crisis, said the Social Affairs Minister.

The reason for the government’s action are new corona protection measures for buses, trains and shopping. According to a federal-state decision of 19 January, self-sewn makeshift masks or cloths are no longer allowed on public transport or in stores; instead, FFP2 masks or the cheaper surgical masks must be worn.

Against the backdrop of the new mask requirements, social organisations had repeatedly demanded that government should also support those in need accordingly. The federal government had already launched a similar mask programme to protect risk groups.

About 34 million citizens over 60 years of age and people with chronic diseases receive vouchers for twelve FFP2 masks, which can be redeemed at the pharmacy. A personal contribution of two euros is due for each six masks. Three free FFP2 masks had already been made available to those affected before the turn of the year.

Spahn also pointed out that 300 million medical masks had been sent to more than 30,000 care facilities in Germany in January, of which a good 100 million were FFP2 masks. Another 30,000 packages of FFP2 masks would be sent to institutions for the disabled and two million masks would be made available to help the homeless.

Victor Francis

READ ALSO Group demands Hartz IV increase because of Corona pandemic

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