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Spc. Rosa Munroe, assigned to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center at Hohenfels, Germany, places a mask made from a T-shirt on her son, April 7, 2020. Beginning next week, it will become mandatory to wear facial masks in stores and when using public transportation in Bavaria.

Spc. Rosa Munroe, assigned to the Joint Multinational Readiness Center at Hohenfels, Germany, places a mask made from a T-shirt on her son, April 7, 2020. Beginning next week, it will become mandatory to wear facial masks in stores and when using public transportation in Bavaria. (Audrequez Evans/U.S. Army)

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Wearing masks when shopping or using public transportation will be required beginning April 27 in Bavaria, German’s second-most populous state and home to about 40,000 U.S. military personnel and family members.

The announcement Monday came as Germany eased some of its lockdown measures nationally, allowing small businesses that maintain hygiene precautions and social distancing to reopen.

Chancellor Angela Merkel recommended wearing masks in shops and on public transportation last week but stopped short of calling for a national requirement. However, state and local authorities have the discretion to call for additional measures.

U.S. military restrictions in Europe already call for masks to be worn when 6 feet of social distance cannot be maintained, including in base stores.

Bavaria had 37,849 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,286 related deaths as of Monday, more than any other German state, the country’s Robert Koch Institute reported.

However, Bavarian Minister President Markus Soeder said Monday that the rate of infection has fallen dramatically.

“One month ago, one infected person had infected six more people” on average, Soeder said. One person now infects less than one other person on average, which has allowed nonvirus-related medical operations to resume, Soeder said.

Overall, Bavaria will ease restrictions more slowly than other states, Soeder said. But the state did recently loosen restrictions on outdoor exercise. A person may now exercise with one other person who isn’t a member of the same household, which conforms with national rules.

Since last month, U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria has enforced several measures meant to contain the spread of the virus, including restricting base residents to their installations and placing some limits on travel for off-base residents.

Garrison commander Col. Adam Boyd said in a Facebook video Friday that the garrison will “come out of protective measures at a slower pace than we came into them.”

“Over the course of the next week we will be working to align ourselves more closely with the Bavarian lifting of restrictions,” while ensuring that any measures taken preserve health and safety, Boyd said.

kloeckner.marcus@stripes.com


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