The German Bundestag re-introduced mask mandates for commercial and government flights this week after Chancellor Olaf Scholz and his diplomatic staff were seen flying to Canada maskless.
Scholz met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau while touring Canada to discuss possible energy solutions as Europe faces a crisis due to its reliance on Russian gas. Russia has promised to turn off the taps to its pipelines as a result of European sanctions stemming from the Ukraine conflict.
“The fact that hardly anyone wore a mask on Scholz and Habeck’s government plane is actually not worth mentioning: travelling like this should have been normal for a long time,” wrote Welt journalist Tim Röhn in German. “But other rules still apply to all other citizens – without mercy.”
A headline by Die Weltwoche read “Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Economic Minister Robert Habeck flew to Canada – without a mask, despite the obligation to wear one. Are you allowed to do that?”
“Laws can be annoying. Sometimes even pointless. Nevertheless, they apply. For all. without exception,” wrote Die Weltowche journalist Roman Zeller. “Unless your name is Olaf Scholz and you are Chancellor. Or Robert Habeck, the Green Economics Minister. They did not wear a mask on their recent flight to Canada.”
A media flurry and the ensuing public outcry has led German authorities to re-introduce a mask mandate on German flights.
The German government has since insisted that Scholz’s maskless flight did not break any rules despite masks being mandatory for travel in Canada.
“There is no mask requirement on air force flights. All travellers must present a recent negative PCR test before boarding. This ensures high-level protection,” wrote a government spokesperson.
Non-surgical masks are now mandatory on all long-distance flights in and out of Germany.
While visiting Canada, Trudeau shut down Germany’s hopes that the two countries could reach an energy agreement to provide natural gas.
Trudeau told reporters that there was a lack of a “business case” to invest in exporting natural gas to Europe.
“There are a number of potential projects, including one in Saint John, and some others that are on the books for which there has never been a strong business case because of the distance from the gas fields,” said Trudeau.