The President of Germany has come under fire after he was pictured travelling on a train in the country without wearing a mask, something mandated by local COVID lockdown rules.
Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the Federal President of Germany, has been accused of flouting lockdown rules after images were released of him travelling on a train without wearing a mask.
While many countries across Europe and the wider rest have largely put the issue of COVID to bed, German politicians are still up in arms about the pandemic, with a wide variety of lockdown rules — including mask mandates — still being in place to this day in the country.
However, while government ministers in Germany will frequently harp on about the importance of mask mandates, they do not always seem to be forced to follow them themselves, with the President of the country himself seemingly being videoed ignoring rules mandating the wearing of masks on regional trains in the country.
According to a report on the controversy by Bild, two videos were published showing the President not wearing the mask while on the train, the first being uploaded to Steinmeier’s own website, with the second one being posted to the politician’s Instagram.
To make matters worse, in the individual state the President was reportedly in at the time, the publication notes that masks are also required on all local forms of public transport too.
— Joana Cotar (@JoanaCotar) October 12, 2022
While a spokesman for the President has insisted that the head of state only took his mask off to film those videos, and put it back on after, many have expressed outrage at the politician’s actions.
Others have seen his actions as an opportunity to push for Germany to join large swathes of the rest of Europe and abandon its mask mandates.
“Do it like Steinmeier. Take off the mask!” one MP for the populist Alternative für Deutschland party, Joana Cotar, wrote online, tagging a picture of the maskless president with the hashtag “vorbild”, or “idol”.
Masks for Plebs Only: German Government Uses Loophole to Escape Own COVID Rules on Flight to Canadahttps://t.co/e1UZm3Ge9Y
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 23, 2022
Others have meanwhile been very quick to point out that this is not the first time that a senior politician has managed to evade their own government’s forced masking rules.
For example, a whole host of government ministers — including the country’s leftist Prime Minister, Olaf Scholz — were caught earlier this year travelling maskless on a flight from Germany to Canada despite having insisted on the extension of forced mask wearing for another half-year starting in October.
When pushed on the issue, the members of the “Traffic Light” coalition government revealed that — due to a legal loophole — they were not actually required to wear masks, as the rules they themselves passed does not apply to flights operated by the German Air Force.
“There is no mask requirement on Air Force flights,” a government spokesman at the time while attempting to justify the rule by saying that all on board were tested for COVID.
However, German national carrier Lufthansa later confirmed that even if someone is tested for COVID-19 before boarding, they would not be able to bypass the mask requirements for commercial flights.
“The pictures of the Federal President are reminiscent of the Traffic Light government plane,” Tino Sorge, the health expert for the opposition Christian Democratic Union party, remarked.
“Either there is a mask requirement, in which case it must apply to everyone – or not,” he continued. “Politicians have to be consistent. The Federal President in particular has a role model function.”