Berlin Around 27 million people from corona risk groups are to be equipped with FFP2 masks. The Pharmacists' Association expects "enormous customer traffic" - and appeals to patients not to rush to the pharmacies on the first day.
From this Tuesday, around 27 million citizens from corona risk groups in Germany will be able to receive the first free FFP2 masks. A corresponding ordinance of the Federal Ministry of Health (BMG) is to come into force on Tuesday, as a ministry spokesman confirmed to the German Press Agency on Monday. The distribution of the protective masks will take place in a step-by-step procedure. The Federal Association of German Pharmacists' Associations (ABDA) expects an "enormous rush of customers" and warns against long queues.
In a first step, from Tuesday onwards, people over 60 and people with certain chronic illnesses will be able to obtain three masks free of charge from pharmacies. The time for collection is until 6 January. According to information provided by the Ministry, all that is needed is the presentation of an identity card "or a comprehensible personal statement that the person belongs to one of the risk groups". Another person may be authorised to collect the card.
In a second step, these people can receive a further twelve masks from 1 January. In return, they will receive coupons from the health insurance company for two times six FFP2 masks each - a personal contribution of 2 Euro for each six masks is planned. The campaign will cost the federal government a total of around 2.5 billion Euro.
FFP2 masks are particularly effective in filtering particles from inhaled or exhaled air, but they do not provide 100% protection either. "An FFP2 mask is not a free ticket. All other infection protection rules should still be observed. This includes washing hands, keeping your distance, airing and using the Corona Warning App", said ABDA President Friedemann Schmidt.
At the same time, he appealed to people to be patient and not to rush to the pharmacies on their first day. Long queues should be avoided as far as possible to prevent infection. "We cannot supply all eligible patients in one day, and the required masks are only being delivered to the pharmacies in batches," said Schmidt.
(Original text: (dpa);Translation: Mareike Graepel)