Government prepares to destroy useless masks worth one billion euros

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Jeff Horseman
Jeff Horseman got into journalism because he liked to write and stunk at math. He grew up in Vermont and he honed his interviewing skills as a supermarket cashier by asking Bernie Sanders “Paper or plastic?” After graduating from Syracuse University in 1999, Jeff began his journalistic odyssey at The Watertown Daily Times in upstate New York, where he impressed then-U.S. Senate candidate Hillary Clinton so much she called him “John” at the end of an interview. From there, he went to Annapolis, Maryland, where he covered city, county and state government at The Capital newspaper. Today, Jeff writes about anything and everything. Along the way, Jeff has covered wildfires, a tropical storm, 9/11 and the Dec. 2 terror attack in San Bernardino. If you have a question or story idea about politics or the inner workings of government, please let Jeff know. He’ll do his best to answer, even if it involves a little math.

Government prepares to destroy useless masks worth one billion euros

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A year ago, the Federal Ministry of Health ordered millions and millions of masks from China. Unfortunately, they were useless. Documents now show how the employees of head of department Jens Spahn want to solve the problem.

According to a report by “Spiegel”, Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) is preparing to destroy a large number of unusable masks. The material, worth an estimated one billion euros, should be stored in the National Health Reserve; with the expiration date, the masks should then be destroyed, the magazine reported. It referred to internal papers of the Ministry of Labor and Health.

The masks were mostly procured from China by the Ministry of Health in spring 2020, wrote the “Spiegel”. However, even under the special rules of the EU applicable at the time, they were not freely marketable and therefore had to be checked in the laboratory before they were used.

In the meantime, the Ministry of Health has planned to distribute such masks to homeless people, disabled people or Hartz IV recipients, the magazine reported. The Ministry of Labour responsible for Mask Safety refused to give its consent.

Masks for disaster

As a compromise, an amendment to the Infection Protection Act should now be decided in the coming week in order to be able to store the masks in the National Health Protection Reserve. From there, they should only be allowed to be issued in the event of a disaster.

According to “Spiegel”, a note from the Ministry of Labor says that masks that have not been retested “will be destroyed after the expiry time has been reached. A levy on citizens is only possible in exceptional cases”, and also only with the express consent of the Ministry of Labor.


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