Top German politician warns far-right lawmakers over lack of masks

The president of Germany’s parliament on Friday “emphatically” called on lawmakers to observe coronavirus restrictions after a number of far-right politicians refused to do so.

“This applies in particular to wearing a mouth and nose covering in all Bundestag properties,” veteran politician Wolfgang Schaueble told a parliamentary session.

Disagreements about the efficacy of wearing masks were legitimate, he added, “but in a democracy you have to accept majority decisions.”

The warning from the parliament’s president, who has the power to temporarily suspend lawmakers from sessions, followed a decision by the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party to allow members to decide for themselves whether to wear a mask at work.

Some AfD lawmakers now chose not to wear a mask at all in parliament, or only wear one while riding in the elevator, spokesperson for the AfD parliamentary group Marcus Schmidt confirmed on Friday.

This is the second time the AfD has received a warning in parliament over the failure to observe pandemic-era rules.

The party has repeatedly supported a series of protests against Germany’s coronavirus restrictions in recent months, at which distancing and mask-wearing rules were openly flouted.

Meanwhile German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said he would be prepared to take drastic measures to allow him to undertake more official visits during the pandemic.

“I’d travel with a full-face helmet, if that made travel possible again,” Steinmeier told reporters at the end of a trip to the Italian city of Milan.

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