Austria became the latest European country to make medical-grade face masks mandatory in some public places on Monday.
People must now switch their face coverings to FFP2 filtering facepiece respirators or N95 masks when traveling on public transport as well as when visiting shops, markets or when picking up takeaway food from restaurants.
The new mask mandate is for all individuals aged 14 and over, the Austrian Health Ministry website said. Children from the age of six can instead wear a mouth and nose covering, while children below six are exempt from mask use.
France’s Health Minister Olivier Veran on Tuesday said homemade masks were made with the best intentions but "do not necessarily offer all the necessary guarantees."
A few days later, German Chancellor Angela Merkel cited the spread of new coronavirus variants, which were first detected in the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, as the reason for stricter requirements in the country. "I urge people to take this seriously. Otherwise it is difficult to prevent a third wave," Merkel told journalists in Berlin on Thursday.
Austria has reported a total of 398,399 Covid-19 cases as of Monday, according to data from the country’s health ministry.
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