Public transport strikes in Berlin and Bavaria cause travel disruption

In the capital, trams, the U-Bahn and most buses are stopping operation until early Saturday morning, and in some cities in Bavaria until mid-day Friday.

Public transport strikes in Berlin and Bavaria cause travel disruption
Bus drivers in Munich striking with the sign

In the capital, buses, trams and U-Bahn lines operated by Berlin's public transport company BVG are to remain in the depot for 24 hours starting at 3 am on Friday and stretching until 3 am on Saturday morning.

In Brandenburg, many employees were to stop working from the start of operations until midday Friday. 

Buses belonging to the companies Verkehrsbetrieb Potsdam, Regiobus Potsdam-Mittelmark, die Havelbus Verkehrsgesellschaft as well as Verkehrsbetriebe Brandenburg an der Havel in Brandenburg are affected. 

READ ALSO: More commuter chaos expected amid all-day Berlin strike

However, S-Bahns and regional trains and private buses travelling on behalf of BVG in Berlin will operate without restrictions. They mainly serve lines on the outskirts of Berlin and numerous night buses.

The following bus lines are still running in Berlin during the strike: 106, 112, 140, 161, 163, 168, 175, 179, 184, 234, 275, 284, 334, 341, 349, 363, 369, 370, 371, 380, 399, 740, 744, N12, N23, N34, N35, N39, N40, N52, N53, N56, N58, N60, N61, N62, N67, N68, N69, N77, N84, N88, N90, N91, N95, N97.

The following lines are also running, but with delays: 218, 283, 395, 398

The following S-Bahn lines are running with delays: S41, S42, S8, S85 und S9 

Verdi is pushing for higher wages for 87,000 employees in all 16 German states. 

On Tuesday, the BVG had slammed the union's industrial action in light of rising coronavirus numbers in the capital, which on Thursday exceeded the critical mark of over 50 per 100,000 residents in the past seven days.

“In view of rising corona numbers, this warning strike…also comes at the completely wrong time and exposes our passengers to an unnecessary health risk,” they said.

READ ALSO: Berlin declared Covid-19 hotspot as infections spike

Bavarian bus drivers on strike

In Bavaria, Verdi has called on bus drivers in several cities, including the three largest Bavarian cities of Munich, Nuremberg and Augsburg, to take a half-day break. Most bus lines should be running again from noon. 

U-Bahns, trams and S-Bahns are running normally, although some lines may be more crowded due to the bus strikes. 

In Nuremberg, numerous U-Bahn trains and trams are also coming to a stand still.

In addition to the Verdi strike, the civil servants' union (Tarifunion im Beamtenbund) had also called for warning strikes in Bavaria. 

Road maintenance workers and building yards in the districts of Starnberg, Ebersberg, Miesbach and Wolfratshausen-Bad Tölz are affected. The actions will last all of Friday.


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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.