German rail boss calls for Covid masks on trains ‘until Easter’

A woman in a mask sits on a Stuttgart train
A woman in a mask sits on a Stuttgart S-Bahn train. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sebastian Gollnow
Even if Germany's 'pandemic situation of national importance' ends in November, the compulsory wearing of masks on public transport should remain, a Deutsche Bahn boss says.

Speaking to German news agency DPA, Jörg Sandvoß, the manager director of Deutsche Bahn’s regional trains. said he hoped mandatory masks would remain on regional trains and buses throughout the winter season and into spring.

If the regulations are in place, “the masks will be worn consistently,” he argued. 

Back in the summer of 2020, Deutsche Bahn had to manage a large number of people who weren’t happy to wear masks, according to Sandvoß.

“That has gone,” he said. “The acceptance of masks is extremely high. That’s why it’s important for us, if the pandemic situation ends now, that there are at least regulations that we maintain the mask obligation in public transport in the winter season, until Easter.”

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At the moment, the mask “definitely contributes to the feeling of safety” for passengers, he added.

Back in June, a survey carried out by opinion research institute Civey revealed that almost half of Germans (44 percent) were in favour of keeping masks in place even after the pandemic, while 41 percent were against and the rest were undecided. 

Though primarily worn to stop the spread of Covid, there are signs that wearing masks in the winter season has helped to dramatically reduce the transmission of other infectious diseases like flu.

The government is currently considering ending special pandemic powers that allow states to enforce Covid rules like mandatory masks on public transport. These are due to expire on November 25th and are unlikely to be extended.

If these powers do go, however, Germany’s potential future government – a coalition consisting of the SPD, Greens and FDP – has confirmed that they want to enshrine these powers in a temporary law until March 20th, 2022.

After this point, however, the legal basis for the mask-wearing requirement could end. 

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