Air rage: Germany’s Scholz sparks row after unmasked flight
BERLIN — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his entourage have come under fire for not wearing face masks aboard a government airplane to Canada on Monday.
According to media reports, more than 80 passengers were accompanying Scholz and Economy and Climate Minister Robert Habeck, who was photographed talking to journalists while unmasked on their flight to Montreal.
While a government spokesperson said that “there is no mask requirement on Air Force flights” and that “all participants on the trip must present a current negative PCR test [for coronavirus] prior to departure,” Germany’s Infection Protection Act does not specifically mention such an exemption.
The apparent double standard has ignited anger in the country, among Scholz’s coalition partners and the opposition Christian Democrats.
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“The German government’s senior leadership and 80 of Germany’s top journalists have demonstrated that they do not believe in the usefulness of masks aboard airplanes,” said Alexander Lambsdorff, an FDP lawmaker, adding that “it is therefore only logical that the Berlin bubble can no longer ask regular Germans to wear them aboard their regular flights to Mallorca.”
Armin Laschet of the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU), who last year lost to Scholz in the race to become chancellor, also weighed in, pointing at Germany’s deviation from many other European countries when it comes to mask mandates.
“There is no exemption for government flights in the Infection Protection Act. But does nobody realize that it would almost be worse if there were exceptions for government officials?” Laschet tweeted Tuesday morning.
“Almost all of Europe does not require masks, with mostly lower incidences. Why this German solo effort?” he asked.
According to Germany’s Infection Protection Act, passengers are only allowed to use planes and long-distance trains if they agree to wear a medical face mask for the duration of their trip.