German state introduces compulsory face mask use in classrooms

North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) became the first federal state in Germany to introduce compulsory use of face masks in classrooms.

All pupils from year 5 onwards have to wear face masks on the entire school premises and also during lessons until at least the end of August, reports Xinhua news agency.

“We have to be particularly careful these days,” said Minister President of NRW state Armin Laschet with regard to the COVID-19 infection numbers in Germany’s most populous federal state which had recently increased significantly.

Last week, a grammar and a primary school in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania had already started had to be closed again because of COVID-19 infections.

At the end of the holiday season in NRW, there had been a “dynamic infection situation”, the state’s Minister of Labor, Health and Social Affairs Karl-Josef Laumann said, appealing to citizens to follow health regulations.

The state of NRW now also classified the violation of mask obligation in public transport as an administrative offence.

Such violations of current face mask regulations would be punished with 150 euros on first instance, according to the state government.

Germany has reported a total of 220,859 coronavirus cases, with 9,268 deaths.