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Germany's Merkel pictured wearing mask in public

BERLIN (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel has started making official appearances wearing a mask, after being called out for never having being pictured wearing one despite it being part of the government’s official guidance in the fight to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

Merkel appeared in the upper house of parliament in Berlin on Friday wearing a black mask sporting the logo of Germany's European Union presidency, taking it off after she took her seat at an appropriate distance from others in the chamber.

The day before, she was pictured with a state governor at a meeting in Berlin wearing a similar mask. The new look came after Merkel responded defensively when asked by a reporter on Monday why she never had been seen wearing a mask.

“If I respect the distancing rules then I don’t need to wear a mask,” she said. “And if I’m not able to stick to them, for example when I’m out shopping, then we apparently don’t see each other, otherwise you’d have already seen me with a mask — but I’m not going to give away where and when I go shopping.”

Merkel, who was a scientist before entering politics, has repeatedly told Germans that even as the spread of the coronavirus has slowed significantly in the country, the only way to prevent a second wave is to stick carefully to distancing, hygiene and mask rules.

Wearing masks has been required on public transport and in shops, and in some other situations, in Germany since late April. Other German officials have been pictured wearing them at coronavirus-related events.

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