GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Individuals wanting to use off-post public transportation or retail stores in Bavaria will now be required to wear a medical-grade FFP2 mask, starting Jan. 18, 2021. Children under 15 years old are not required to wear this specific mask. However, children above the age of 6 are still required to wear a cloth face covering of some type.FFP stands for “Filtering Facepieces,” and FFP2 masks can be purchased at local Apothecaries and other stores off-post. On-post retailers are working through the logistical chains to make FFP2 variants available, but it will take some time. Additionally, the use of FFP2 mask equivalents, like the N-95, is currently under discussion. The USAG Bavaria Public Affairs Office will release more information about the availability and use of similar masks once additional information is received.While FFP2 masks can be more expensive, these masks can be reused with proper handling and storage. Here are some tips to extend the longevity of these medical-grade masks:Never reuse an FFP2 mask that is soiled, damaged, or hard to breathe through; if this occurs, dispose of it in your regular household trash.Only masks with elastic ear hooks should be reused (tie-on face masks are less suitable because they are more difficult to remove and may lead to self-contamination)Additional FFP2 mask handling pointers:Individuals should wash their hands before removing their masks.Only touch the straps of the mask to remove.Do not touch the front of the mask; this is the most contaminated part.After removing the mask, it should be hung by the straps to allow it to dry. Do not store the mask in an airtight container.Store the mask such that the inside of the mask does not get contaminated by other surfaces.Store the mask in low-traffic areas of your home.Hand washing should occur before and after removing the face mask.FFP2 masks are NEVER to be cleaned or disinfected with disinfectant spray. The disinfectant spray could damage the filtering material.Do not share masks among household members.To ensure that masks are not shared, consider using a sharpie to put initials or names on the straps before first use.For more information, visit the USAG-Bavaria COVID-19 FAQ page.