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Will Germany get rid of masks in public transport?

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The Local ([email protected])
Will Germany get rid of masks in public transport?
Passengers wearing FFP2 masks board a tram in the city centre in Brandenburg. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Monika Skolimowska

One German state has announced it will not continue the mask requirement on buses and trains beyond the end of the year. But will other Bundesländer follow suit?

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On long-distance trains in Germany, there is a nationwide obligation to wear an FFP2 mask. But, under the Infection Protection Act, it's up to the individual states to decide whether passengers on local transport must wear a mask.

Currently, all 16 states have some form of mandatory mask-wearing in place on public transport, but this could soon change.

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Following the announcement that he will not extend the mask requirement on local transport next year, Schleswig-Holstein's State Premier Daniel Günther (CDU) said on Friday that he hopes other states will do the same.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: What will the Covid situation look like in Germany this winter?

Günther spoke of "steps towards normality" and justified the action by saying that the situation in Schleswig-Holstein, Germany's most northern state, was under control. 

The health policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Andrew Ullmann, is also in favour of less stringent mask-wearing rules, and told Die Welt: "We advocate a mask recommendation instead of a mask requirement."

However, the health policy spokesman for the Greens in the Bundestag, Janosch Dahmen, opposes the idea of relaxing the mask requirement in public transport, telling the same publication: "There are no new, medically evident reasons why we should now deviate from the previously legally provided segregation and isolation obligations or the mask obligation in mass transit."

On Friday, the states of Schleswig-Holstein, Baden-Württemberg, Bavaria and Hesse, announced that they would get rid of the mandatory isolation rules for people infected with Covid.

READ ALSO: Four German states poised to end mandatory Covid isolation

Lower Saxony's Minister President Stephan Weil, is also opting for a cautious approach for the coming winter.

The SPD politician told Die Welt newspaper: "Even if we all wish otherwise, the pandemic is not over. This is proven not least by the relatively high death toll that we continue to record."

He pointed out that, in the last couple of years during the pandemic, the colder months have been particularly difficult in terms of rising Covid infection numbers. "Against this background, we will remain cautious in Lower Saxony," he said.

On Monday, the nationwide seven-day incidence - the average daily number of newly detected Covid-19 cases over a 7-day period - was 216.7. This is a decrease of more than 50 since the previous week when this stood at 269.2.

As of Monday, the states with the highest seven-day incidences are Bremen with 329.8, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania with 307.5 and Lower Saxony with 302.

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