Merz against nationwide mask requirement

Mon 15th Aug, 2022

CDU leader Friedrich Merz has spoken out against a blanket mask requirement in the fall. "A general mask requirement in public spaces? No. On what grounds then?" said Merz, who is also chairman of the CDU/CSU parliamentary group in the Bundestag, when asked in Berlin whether he was in favor of such a requirement. The 66-year-old also stressed that he would "certainly not" be vaccinated against Corona every three months starting in the fall.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) had made it clear on Friday that he expects a nationwide mask obligation from October 1. Merz stressed, he is against such a duty "simply so on suspicion, because fundamental rights encroachments must be carefully justified". But if there are certain endangered areas - hospitals, nursing homes, care facilities, to protect the residents and the people working there - his answer is yes to a mask obligation.

Asked if he was preparing to be vaccinated against Corona every three months starting in the fall, Merz replied, "Certainly not." He had sufficiently high protection from his three vaccinations and from a Corona illness at the beginning of the pandemic, in the view of his family doctor. This has also been measured and proven, he said. "I don't think anything of continuing the vaccination debate in this way now."

Merz fiercely attacked the health minister: "The way Mr. Lauterbach communicates and acts, he creates chaos everywhere and further unsettles the population." This would possibly mobilize opponents of vaccination even more, he warned.

Lauterbach had stated on Friday that it was not the case that a vaccination would only be valid for three months and that people would have to be vaccinated every three months. This period for exceptions from the mask obligation in indoor areas had been chosen because vaccinations in this period protect against infection according to existing opinion. They protect against severe courses of infection for much longer. To be vaccinated every three months would also be "medically completely nonsensical," he said.

Against the background of the dispute over the traffic light plans for a new infection protection law, Merz demanded: "I can only recommend to the federal government not to come to parliament in the fall with these uncoordinated, immature proposals." For him, it came as a surprise that the FDP and SPD had agreed on topics together "that obviously not only do not meet with approval in one part of the coalition, but even with harsh rejection."

At the same time, the CDU chairman warned against a confusing patchwork of corona regulations in the coming fall and winter. If there are different manifestations of infection in individual federal states that must be taken into account, he said. "But the legitimate need of the population is, after all, that there is a regulation that is as uniform as possible and understandable in all parts of the Federal Republic of Germany."

For example, an ICE train from Hamburg to Munich travels through several German states, Merz said. "So you can expect that the person who gets on in Hamburg and gets off again in Munich will find a completely uniform regulation on the connecting trains as well." From the federal government, the CDU leader demanded plausible, understandable and, as far as possible, uniform regulations "that can also be accepted and implemented internally by as large a part of the population as possible."


Due to low demand, the destruction of hundreds of thousands of packages of the Corona drug Paxlovid is threatened in Germany. This emerges from an answer of the Federal Ministry of Health to a parliamentary question of the CSU health politician Stephan Pilsinger, as the RND newspapers reported on Monday. According to the report, 460,000 of the ordered one million packages have been delivered to wholesalers so far.

"Of these, 280,000 will reach their expiration date by February 2023," the response from State Health Secretary Edgar Franke (SPD) states, according to the report. A possible extension of the shelf life of the drug is being examined.

Pilsinger told Editorial Network Germany RND), referring to the destruction of at least four million Corona vaccine doses that has already taken place, "The fact that Paxlovid doses are now threatening to expire for millions of euros shows that Karl Lauterbach has learned nothing." Before the valuable drug expires unused, "it would be better to give it away to poorer countries," the CSU politician demanded.

The drug from the U.S. pharmaceutical company Pfizer is intended to help prevent severe courses of corona. However, according to estimates, it has only been prescribed around 30,000 times in Germany, as the RND newspapers further reported.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD), who is convinced of the drug's effectiveness, is therefore trying to increase the number of prescriptions. For example, he said, he wants to allow doctors to dispense the drug directly to patients - which is normally the monopoly of pharmacies.

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