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Flixbus to restart long-distance journeys in Germany

Following a pause due to the coronavirus, travellers and commuters in Germany can once again take long-distance bus journeys from Thursday.

Flixbus to restart long-distance journeys in Germany
Archive photo shows a Flixbus in Frankfurt am Main. Photo: DPA

After a break of more than two months due to the spread of coronavirus, budget bus firm Flixbus has announced it will start running again from May 28th. The company announced that it will also be back in service in Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic and Denmark.

A total of 26 buses will be on the road again, initially making almost 50 stops, the German market leader announced on Friday May 22nd. Before the crisis there had been 10 times as many stops, however businesses are gradually taking steps to open up again.

Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the buses have been stationary since March 18th. Competitors like Blablabus and Pinkbus have not yet announced when they will resume services.

Aim for safe travel

“We want to ensure safe travel even in these corona times,” Flixbus managing director Andre Schwämmlein told DPA.

A hygiene plan has been developed:

  • Buses are to be disinfected after each journey
  • A safety distance of 1.5 metres applies at bus stops and when getting on and off.
  • Tickets are checked without contact, while disinfectant is available

As is the case with train journeys, however, seats will not be blocked off, Schwämmlein said. “This is not economically feasible,” he said.

But passengers must wear face masks during the entire journey, and bosses have urged passengers not to travel if they are unwell or have coronavirus symptoms.

Meanwhile, there's good news for customers: Schwämmeln said trips should not get more expensive. “We assume we can maintain the price level we had before the crisis,” he said.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about travelling in Germany this summer

Toilets will not open

Besides large cities such as Berlin, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main and Munich, smaller cities such as Bayreuth, Himmelkron, Titisee-Neustadt, Weimar and Wolpertshausen will also be on the routes, Flixbus announced.

Toilets will remain closed on the bus as a safety measure. However, bus drivers will regularly take passengers to service stops, the company said.

Many travel firms are struggling in the face of the coronavirus shutdown.

However, Flixbus bosses believe the firm can get through it. “We will survive this crisis,” said Schwämmlein.

In 2019 Flixbus carried more than 62 million passengers worldwide. This year the company hopes to continue to expand its services. There's currently no date for when the Flixtrain will be available again.

Flixbus is counting on being able to operate cross-border services again soon. “We hope that a responsible European solution will be established in the next few weeks,” said Schwämmeln.

READ ALSO: Germany aims to lift warning against worldwide travel from mid-June

Meanwhile, the company supports demands by the bus industry for state aid. “Everyone can survive three months, but we must consider how to help in the next 12 to 18 months,” said Schwämmlein. “Otherwise many won't survive.”

German Transportation Minister Andreas Scheuer, of the centre-right CSU, recently announced aid of around €170 million for the bus industry.

Vocabulary

Safety distance – (der) Sicherheitsabstand

Disinfected – desinfiziert

Not economically feasible – wirtschaftlich nicht darstellbar

Price level – (das) Preisniveau

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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