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Berlin transport network launches flexi-ticket for post-pandemic travel

The VBB-Flexticket for Berlin’s BVG and S-Bahn aims to give riders more flexible travel options during - and after - the Covid pandemic.

Single ticket for Berlin public transport
A passenger holds a single travel ticket for the Berlin transport network. Photo: picture alliance / dpa | Lukas Schulze

Starting New Year’s Day, Berlin and Brandenburg’s VBB introduced its new Flexticket, offering transit riders more flexibility during a time when they might not be going into the office every day.

Designed for people who may be working from home a few times a week, the Flexticket comes in a pack of eight tickets valid for a period of 24 hours each, at a cost of €44 a pack.

It saves the rider more than three euros a ticket compared to buying eight individual day passes, almost €20 compared to the monthly fee a yearly subscription carries, and is nearly €40 cheaper than a monthly ticket bought at a BVG machine.

Passengers have 30 days to use the eight tickets, with unused ones losing their validity after that time.

“Perhaps the world will look different again in two or three years, but we now need flexible tariff offers,” said VBB Head Susanne Henckel in a press release.

READ ALSO: German public transport slammed as ‘failure’ as half of users switch to car

The Flexticket is valid only in the Berlin AB zones and can only be purchased in online or in a BVG or S-Bahn customer service centre. Riders can’t buy them at machines.

It will stay in a pilot phase until December 2023.

 

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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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