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COVID-19 RULES

German states likely to keep mask mandate on public transport

Health ministers in Germany's 16 states say that the requirement to wear face masks on local public transport should remain in place throughout autumn and winter.

A sign showing people have to wear masks on the Hamburg U-Bahn.
A sign showing people have to wear masks on the Hamburg U-Bahn. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Julian Weber

As part of Germany’s planned Covid regulations from October onwards, people will have to wear FFP2 masks on long-distance transport, such as trains.

However, states are able to decide themselves on any mask requirements for local buses, trains, and trams. 

On Monday, state health ministers agreed that they were in favour of keeping the mask mandate on public transport across Germany.

According to the health ministry in Saxony-Anhalt, which currently holds the presidency of the Conference of Health Ministers, the aim is to have uniform rules in all states when it comes to masks on transit. 

It comes after some people raised concerns that Germany would see a patchwork of different rules across the states.

As The Local has been reporting, the Bundestag last week passed a set of Covid regulations that will be in place from October 1st until April 7th 2023.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS – Germany’s new Covid-19 rules for autumn

The plan includes some measures that will apply nationwide, while the states can decide on regional requirements depending on the pandemic situation.

Across Germany, FFP2 masks will be mandatory on long-distance trains and buses as well as in health and care settings, such as GP offices. There will no longer be a requirement to wear masks on planes in Germany.

Approval of the legal framework is still needed from the Bundesrat, which represents the states. That is expected to take place on Friday. 

Member comments

  1. More and more people are quietly deciding that the rules and regulations make no sense, are not consequential and increasingly arbitrary …and not adhering to the regulations in public transport. It is incredibly encouraging, that despite more and more passengers not wearing a mask at all / wearing only an OP mask / wearing either kind of mask inaccurately, that the case figures are not rising drastically. I for one, am fed up being treated like a nursery child, rather than being able to exercise my own judgement and am practising civil disobedience.

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COVID-19 LATEST

First German states scrap face masks on public transport

Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt will drop the mask requirement on public transport and other German states could soon follow.

First German states scrap face masks on public transport

On Monday, German state health ministers met to discuss how to go proceed with Covid regulations this winter. But with regards to wearing masks on public transport, they were unable to reach an agreement.

As a result, on Tuesday, the states of Saxony-Anhalt and Bavaria announced that they will get rid of the mask requirement in local public transport.

From Thursday, people in Saxony-Anhalt can ride buses and trains without masks – from Saturday in Bavaria. The cabinets of the two states justified their decisions on the basis of “a stable Covid infection situation”.

As of Tuesday, the 7-day Covid incidence – the number of new cases per 100,000 people – was 204.2 in the whole of Germany. In Bavaria, the 7-day incidence was 107.9 and 246.5 in Saxony-Anhalt.

READ ALSO: Two German states stop enforcing mandatory Covid-19 isolation

Bavaria’s Health Minister Klaus Holetschek said that a mask requirement for Covid protection is no longer proportionate. Instead, the Bavarian government will recommend people continue wearing masks, rather than obliging them to do so.

Bavarian state leader Markus Söder wrote on Twitter: “The infection situation has been stable for a long time.”

Saxony-Anhalt will also rely on voluntary mask-wearing in local public transport and the obligation will be dispensed with on Thursday, December 8th.  

Will more states follow?

Germany’s most northern state of Schleswig-Holstein plans to decide in the next week on whether or not to end the mask obligation on local transport. Prime Minister Daniel Günther already said recently that his aim was not to extend the mask obligation, which is limited until the end of the year.

However, the state governments of North Rhine-Westphalia, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg, Saarland and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania made clear on Tuesday that they intend to keep the mask requirement in place for the time being.

What about masks on long-distance transport?

One of the only Covid measures that have been in place nationwide this winter, is the requirement that passengers on long-distance transport still wear face masks. Under the current law, this will remain in place until April 2023.

However, the head of the rail and transport union (EVG), Martin Burkert, spoke out in favour of doing away with the mask requirement on long-distance trains as well.

READ ALSO: German opposition leader calls for official end to pandemic next year

“No one can understand anymore why masks are still mandatory on long-distance trains,” Burkert said.

“If the regulation is retained, there need to be checks by the federal police, not by railroad staff. While the federal states can decide for themselves whether masks are compulsory on local trains, the federal government is responsible for long-distance trains.”

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