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German mask rules move closer to neighbouring countries

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Germany is moving towards a gradual lifting of the requirement to wear a mask outdoors thanks to a lull in Covid-19 infections in the country, the health minister said Monday.

“Thanks to the falling incidence rate, we can proceed in stages, a first step could be the lifting of the mask requirement outdoors,” Jens Spahn said in an interview with the Funke media group.

“In regions with a very low incidence rate, and a high vaccination rate, this could be done gradually indoors,” he added.

In Germany, masks must be worn in enclosed public places, public transport, shops and some busy streets.

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But the country, like most of its European neighbours, has been experiencing a rapid drop in coronavirus infections for several weeks, allowing the restrictions to be relaxed. This moved is supported by an increase in vaccinations which has seen nearly one in two Germans (48.1%) receive at least one dose, while 25.7% of the population is fully immunised.

Many anti-Covid measures have already been lifted, with restaurants, bars and non-essential shops that had been closed for several months reopening to the public.

From Berlin to Brussels

While the general obligation to wear a face mask in the Brussels-Capital Region no longer applies, masks remain mandatory in generally crowded areas indicated by the 19 commune’s mayors.

Even though the obligation has been lifted by Brussels, the federal rules are still in force, meaning that a mask is still compulsory in shops, stations and on public transport, as well as on all markets and events, in cinemas, theatres, and during worship services.

These same federal rules mean similar measures are in force in Flanders and Wallonia, with many cities requiring masks in city centres.

For a full recap of the rules in Brussels by commune, click here.

The Brussels Times