Berlin metro firm: It’s really not cool to ride trains naked

Berlin's public transport company, the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), pride themselves on their laid-back attitude to their customers. But a recent incident has prompted them to pull rank.

Berlin metro firm: It's really not cool to ride trains naked
Photo: DPA

All sorts of unusual passengers ride the Berlin metro – pets, homeless people, musicians, and even a flash mob of people with no trousers on in January this year during the “No Pants Subway Ride”.

But two recently uploaded YouTube videos show that a man took things one step further and nonchalantly rode the U1 and U4 lines completely naked, to the surprise of his fellow travellers, Tagesspiegel reports. 

An elderly man, embarrassed by the whole spectacle, hid behind his newspaper at first but then offered it to the naked guy to cover himself up.

The videos have since been removed from YouTube.

But this wasn’t the first time that the mystery man had exposed himself in public.

Youtube Channel “Urban Nudist” displays further footage of him starkers in the Greek town of Thessaloniki and a second video showing him naked on the streets of Berlin.

BVG spokeswoman Petra Reetz could not confirm to The Local that the naked man actually travelled on the U-Bahn recently, arguing that the videos could have been made a few years ago.

However, she did have something to say about the Berlin metro dress code.

Nudity “is not welcome” on the underground, and counts as “causing public disturbance”, Reetz said.

Though there is no specific dress code, the BVG website states that metro users should “be considerate of other passengers”.

Although “there would be no punishment” for nudist metro-riders, “we would simply throw them out” and say “please get off the train!”, Reetz said.

Passengers should wear “appropriate clothing” she said, adding that wearing something inflammatory like a swastika would not be acceptable, but “If you get on the metro in a giraffe costume, it really doesn't matter to us.”

BVG’s disapproval of nudity on the Metro seems rather out of character for their normally easy-going stance towards passengers. 

In December 2015, the company created a wildly successful ad campaign with the song “Is’ mir egal” (“I don’t care”) in which a rapper walks up a metro train explaining how the BVG is relaxed about almost anything except for passengers riding without tickets.

“The message is this: Whoever you are, we love you and we’ll take you with us”, Kazim Akboga told the Berliner Zeitung.

Just not if you're stark naked. 

By Verity Middleton

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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.