German minister prioritizes face masks for critical workers

FILE PHOTO: Finance Minister Olaf Scholz addresses the media, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, near the Glienicke Bridge in Potsdam, Germany March 29, 2020. REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

BERLIN (Reuters) - Asked about the possibility of introducing an obligation to wear protective face masks, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday that the masks Germany has are for critical workers such as medical staff.

The city of Jena in eastern Germany has decided to make people wear face masks when shopping or travelling by public transport, stepping up efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus and becoming the first city in the country to introduce the measure.

Austria will require shoppers to wear basic face masks in supermarkets in a bid to slow the still too-rapid spread of the coronavirus, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said on Monday.

Reporting by Michelle Martin; Editing by Madeline Chambers