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A box of FFP2 face masks from a drugstore near Kaiserslautern, Germany. Medical-grade masks must be worn at shops, the post office and other public facilities on Ramstein Air Base and other Air Force properties in the area starting Monday, Feb. 1, 2021.
A box of FFP2 face masks from a drugstore near Kaiserslautern, Germany. Medical-grade masks must be worn at shops, the post office and other public facilities on Ramstein Air Base and other Air Force properties in the area starting Monday, Feb. 1, 2021. (Jennifer H. Svan/Stars and Stripes)

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Medical-grade face masks will have to be worn in public facilities on Ramstein Air Base and other Air Force installations in the Kaiserslautern area starting next week, the 86th Airlift Wing said Thursday.

FFP2, KN95, N95 or medical-style surgery masks will be required when visiting “the Base Exchange, all shops and food court areas; the Ramstein and Vogelweh commissaries; the Ramstein Shopette, Post Offices, and the Ramstein Law Center,” 86th Airlift Wing commander, Brig. Gen. Josh Olson, said in a memorandum.

Medical-grade masks also will be required in houses of worship, the memorandum said.

Cloth masks with at least two layers of fabric may be used in other base facilities, the memorandum said.

All masks must cover the mouth and nose. Children ages 6 and under do not have to wear face coverings.

The new mask rule brings the 86th Airlift Wing into line with strict German directives that require medical-grade masks to be worn in public places and when using services, such as buses or trains. The rule was put in place around Germany this week to try to bring down persistently high rates of infection in most of the country.

FFP2 and KN95/N95 are said to offer the best protection against the coronavirus, shielding the wearer and those nearby from larger particles found in the mouth and nose, called droplets, and from smaller particles called aerosols. Particles can travel about 6 feet after they’ve been exhaled, which is why that has become the social distancing norm to reduce the risk of infection. Aerosols can travel several yards and linger in the air longer than droplets.

Under the German rules, surgical masks must have multiple layers of fabric, a metal strut that sits across the nose, and say on their packaging that they are type II or III and CE rated.

86th Airlift Wing personnel in Belgium, Luxembourg, Spain, Portugal and Norway are required to follow “the more stringent” of installation or host-nation rules, the memorandum said.

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