Five per person: low-income Berliners get masks for free – Berlin


It was one of the longest-discussed passages of the statutory ordinance to contain the coronavirus in Berlin, which came into force on Sunday: the tightening of the mask requirement. After the coalition members from the SPD, the Left and the Greens, according to reports from participants, came to an agreement comparatively quickly on exactly where the obligation to wear medical masks should apply in the future, a struggle for responsibility for distribution, coordination and procurement ensued.

 The  game was played between Senator for Social Affairs Elke Breitenbach (left) and Senator for Health Dilek Kalayci (SPD).

In the end, Kalayci prevailed, but promised to make the currently more than three million masks stockpiled available for a first tranche. Distribution to the districts from the warehouse operated by the health administration is expected to begin on Monday and be completed a day later.


 The  next day, Breitenbach had to deal with the question of how exactly this should happen. ©

 The  answer came in the form of an email early Thursday afternoon. According to spokesman Stefan Strauss, this was sent to all district offices. She informed that the free distribution of the masks by the districts should be organized and that a contact person to coordinate the task should be named as soon as possible.

It was similar in the spring of last year during the first lockdown, when everyday masks were distributed. “We want to organize this in the tried and tested form,” said Strauss and added that the issuing offices do not necessarily have to be set up in the district or citizens’ offices.

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“It is important to straighten the output, to avoid crowds,” said Strauss and announced that first of all five masks per person would be distributed. Where exactly the issuing points are set up and at what times they are opened should be made public in cooperation with the districts as soon as possible. When exactly the masks are issued remains unclear.

It remained unclear how many people were entitled to free masks


 The  question that remains is who is entitled to one or better five medical masks. According to Strauss, it will be issued to people “with a low income” or without a permanent address. ©

 The  former would have to prove their precarious financial circumstances by showing a performance notice.


 The  eligible group includes Hartz IV recipients, social welfare recipients, people with basic social security and recipients of integration assistance. In short, the group includes all people who receive transfer payments, Strauss continued and emphasized that proof of these payments must be provided personally.


 The  day after the Senate meeting, it was also unclear how many people were entitled to free masks. With five masks per person and a stock of around 3.5 million masks, around 700,000 people could initially be supplied. “We do not know exactly at the moment,” said Breitenbach spokesman Strauss and announced that reorders for the period up to February 14th have already been scheduled. From the financial administration it was said that sufficient funds for the purchase of masks were available and would be made available through the state budget.

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