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Germany has ratcheted up rules for wearing face masks, becoming the first major European country to require medical-grade protection in shops and public transit in hopes of controlling faster-spreading strains of the coronavirus.

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the measures alongside new curbs late Tuesday, mandating that people wear surgical masks or higher-specification N95 or FFP-2 devices rather than simply donning cloth face coverings. The move comes as the country reports record COVID-19 deaths despite an easing of new infections, and echoes efforts in some Asian countries that have more successfully limited Covid’s spread.

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