Face mask rule could help when unwinding lockdown: German health ministry

Face masks sewed by workers of the University hospital are seen, as the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Essen, Germany, March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Leon Kuegeler

BERLIN (Reuters) - An obligation for the general public to wear masks may have a role to play when Germany starts unwinding the lockdown measures that are currently in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus epidemic, a health ministry spokesman said.

Spokesman Hanno Kautz was asked at a regular news conference whether Germany was considering following Austria in requiring shoppers to wear non-medical face masks in supermarkets. He said such masks could help protect others from contracting the illness from the wearer.

Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz announced the new mask rule earlier on Monday.

Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Michelle Martin