‘Get rid of deodorant’: How Berlin’s BVG wants to encourage face masks

Berlin public transport operator BVG is known for its tongue-in-cheek campaigns. And now it's urging people to stop wearing deodorant so that people cover their noses when wearing masks.

'Get rid of deodorant': How Berlin's BVG wants to encourage face masks
The Berlin U-Bahn in April. Masks are now mandatory. Photo: DPA

Face masks are mandatory in Germany in certain public places, such as in shops and on public transport in a bid to control the spread of coronavirus.

But many people don't wear them properly, often just covering their mouth and leaving their nose poking out the top… which defeats the whole purpose of obligatory face masks.

But Berlin's BVG, which operates the capital's underground system, trams and buses, has come up with an idea to get people to wear their mask over their nose: they've called on people to abandon deodorant.

Yes, anyone who's spent time in Berlin knows just how smelly U-Bahn trains and buses can get in the summer, particularly with no air conditioning and when there are lots of people on board.

So it's true that adding a lack of deodorant to the mix might encourage people to actually cover their noses.

In a social media post, the BVG said: “You leave us no choice.”

“Because so many people think that they can wear the mask under their nose, we are now pulling other strings – the BVG calls on everyone to give up deodorant. Still want to keep your nose exposed?”

The move received a lot of attention, with people supporting the call. As of Thursday morning, the post had received 4.6k likes.

“I love it, best argument ever,” said one Twitter user.

As The Local reported, Berlin decided to introduce fines for people who refuse to wear a face mask when its obligatory.

The local government voted on Tuesday June 23rd to slap €50 fines on people who don't wear a face mask when it is mandatory to do so, such as when travelling on public transport or in shops.

The fines can be increased up to €500 for repeat offenders.

READ ALSO: Berlin to fine people who flout coronavirus mask rules

Not the first BVG joke…

The BVG is famed for its satirical sense of humour. In December, they applied for UNESCO World Heritage status, humorously portraying in a parody video that their historically slow and antiquated service qualifies them as a landmark.

The operator hit the headlines recently when they poked fun at coronavirus conspiracy theories which have circulated around Germany.



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Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany.