FFP2 wearer: The Chancellor has been protecting herself with professional masks for months
Photo: Christian Spicker / imago images / Christian Spicker
Who seriously believes that that little bit of cloth over our mouth and nose protects us from inhaling coronaviruses?
And yet millions of people still wear such self-made fabric masks on buses, trains and supermarkets.
After ten months of pandemic, in the middle of the second shutdown, while the virus is raging through Germany.
Despite hundreds of deaths and tens of thousands of new infections every day.
And despite the even more contagious mutations that could soon spread in this country too.
It is high time we all wear the appropriate masks in risky situations - FFP2 masks without a valve.
Because these products are designed, tested and certified precisely for this purpose: to filter pollutants from the air, for example the notorious aerosols.
On inhalation and on exhalation.
In principle, therefore, the approach of the Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder to prescribe FFP2 masks in local transport and retail.
However, Söder and his people did not think carefully about the implementation of their new obligation for real protective masks at first.
You now have to readjust.
Whether on the plane, when shopping or at the office: A Germany-wide FFP2 mask requirement indoors with many people would be extremely useful.
But the federal government would have to prepare them properly.
And give out the FFP2 masks for free: at least to low-income citizens.
The so-called everyday masks are a relic.
Born out of necessity last April, when the mask requirement started.
Professional protective masks were in short supply at the time: "Worth gold," as Jens Spahn said.
The few that existed were to be reserved for doctors and nurses.
Even simple surgical masks were scarce here and there.
And: a self-made mouth and nose mask, a scarf or a scarf in front of the mouth are much better than nothing.
They can protect other people from the droplet infection, divert the exhaled or coughed air flow, and prevent the virus from spreading widely in rooms.
But the self-made masks only partially achieve all of this - not nearly as well as the specially designed valve-less FFP2 masks with their integrated filters.
And the wearer himself or herself can hardly protect the piece of fabric from breathing in contaminated ambient air.
Perhaps you have smelled the perfume or the cold smoke of the people sitting next to you despite wearing your Do-It-Yourself MNS.
Billions of masks in stock
The FFP2 deficiency was over since last summer.
Everyone, everyone, can buy a professional protective mask.
In the pharmacy, in shops, on the Internet.
Breathing may be a little harder at first than through a cotton cloth.
But many FFP2 users get used to it quickly.
And: if you put this mask on correctly - education is important here - you and the people around you are protected.
Not perfect, but definitely better than building it yourself.
Compared to other Corona measures such as school, daycare, restaurant and shop closings, curfews or 15-kilometer radii, the extended mask requirement hardly restricts our lives.
But it can prevent many infections.
According to the European standard, FFP2 masks without a valve must capture at least 94 percent of the airborne particles up to a size of 0.6 micrometers.
According to estimates by logisticians, billions of FFP2 masks are in stock ready for use.
And for most Germans they should be affordable: with unit prices starting at 1.50 euros for products with the CE mark.
That’s still a lot of money for low-income people.
And if a nationwide mask requirement were introduced overnight unprepared, there could be procurement chaos.
Söder's Bavarian government is slimming down.
She claimed that there were enough masks in the Free State - a few hours later, many pharmacies in the Free State and online retailers were sold out.
And the state government initially wanted to impose the costs on all citizens, right down to the weakest.
Health Minister Klaus Holetschek said that everyone would "also be able to make a contribution themselves."
That is unsocial, with a Hartz 4 standard rate for health care of 0.57 euros per day.
A shit storm followed, now the state government apparently wants to provide those in need in Bavaria with 2.5 million FFP2 masks for free.
This amount will not last long.
The fight against the pandemic is a state responsibility.
It is about the health of all of us.
If the responsible politicians announce an FFP2 mask requirement, they must ensure in advance that enough FFP2 masks are available.
You need to educate citizens on how to properly wear the masks.
And if the decision-makers can save the travel company TUI three times with tax billions, then they must not skimp on FFP2 masks.
They are available in wholesalers for quantities from 0.50 euros per piece.
If the state were to give all citizens one mask a day, it would cost him around 1.25 billion euros a month.
A fraction of what the shutdown devours.
And the state doesn't have to give away that many masks.
I myself can afford FFP2, for example, and there are millions of Germans above my salary class.
In addition, according to US scientists, disposable FFP2 masks can also be used several times without hesitation by sterilizing them with a stove.
A nationwide FFP2 mask requirement in transport and shops could save thousands of lives.
However, it must not be prescribed without preparation.
The federal government and the other federal states should take a close look at Bavaria's advance.
And then do the right thing, but do the right thing.
Icon: The mirror