Germany’s Chancellor, Angela Merkel, entered the Bundesrat, the upper house of Germany’s bicameral legislature on Friday July 3 wearing a black face mask. This is the first time she has been seen in public so adorned. The face mask is becoming part of the unofficial uniform of political leaders in countries hard hit by the pandemic, and Merkel’s appearance is part of that broader process.
Germany took a sharp blow from the pandemic back in April. For a time, the new infections per day figure exceeded 5,000. Since then, the disease has receded. New cases are less than 400 most days. It is doing better than any of its neighbors on the numbers. Germany also has not locked itself down to quite the degree its neighbors have.
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Still, a reporter asked Merkel on at a June 29 press conference why she hadn’t been seen in public masked. She replied that she had been wearing one on shopping trips, because t is impossible to maintain social distancing at such times. But “I won’t tell you where I go shopping,” she added. She took a fair amount of criticism for this flippancy. Her new accessory is presumably her response to that criticism.