Corona pandemic: End of the mask requirement on buses and trains

After almost three years of Corona, masks are now compulsory in buses and trains throughout Germany.

Corona pandemic: End of the mask requirement on buses and trains

After almost three years of Corona, masks are now compulsory in buses and trains throughout Germany. After about half of the federal states have already lifted the rule in their regional traffic, from this Thursday there will no longer be an obligation to wear it in the remaining federal states and in long-distance traffic - this applies to ICEs, ICs, ECs and also long-distance buses such as Flixbus. Originally, long-distance traffic was not supposed to be ready until April. However, the federal cabinet recently repealed the rule laid down in the Infection Protection Act prematurely because the situation had eased.

Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach advised wearing masks voluntarily. "I do it too, so as not to risk a long Covid and to protect others," wrote the SPD politician on Twitter on Wednesday. At the same time, Lauterbach described the previous measures to avoid large corona winter waves as successful. Therefore, the mask requirement in long-distance traffic can be omitted.

The FDP had pushed for an end to the measure in the traffic light. The omission is a logical step, said the health policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Andrew Ullmann, of the German Press Agency. Even if corona infections continue to occur, the pandemic in Germany is over.

The health policy spokesman for the Union parliamentary group, Tino Sorge (CDU), called the end of the mask requirement on buses and trains "overdue". "Even without government guidelines, people know very well where and how best to protect themselves," he told dpa. It was a "major mistake" by the Minister of Health to discredit the debate about the end of the mask requirement as careless for weeks. "The horror forecasts made by Minister Lauterbach have all turned out to be wrong."

Uniform regulations welcomed

A Flixbus spokeswoman said, "As a Europe-wide long-distance bus and train operator, we support the end of the mask requirement". Both passengers and drivers benefit from uniform regulations in the transport industry.

In April 2020, the first federal states in Germany introduced a mask requirement on public transport - initially towels or scarves were enough. Gradually, the mask became the norm. In January 2021, Bavaria was the first federal state to introduce an FFP2 mask requirement. Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU), who counted himself on the "Team Caution", justified it like this: "Compared to all the holey scarves, some of which are there, and the community masks that you can find on public transport that have been worn for about eight months an FFP2 mask is a significant improvement in every respect."

With the Germany-wide phasing out of the obligation to carry in buses and trains, another federal requirement will expire earlier than planned this Thursday: the Corona Occupational Safety and Health Ordinance. Companies no longer have to set up hygiene concepts and check, for example, whether they offer their employees home office and test offers. The obligation to isolate yourself in the event of a corona infection will also be history in all federal states except for Berlin, Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania by the end of the week.

No final point yet

However, some corona rules remain in place: nationwide, visitors to hospitals, care facilities, medical and dental practices must continue to wear an FFP2 mask until April 7, and a negative test is also required to enter clinics and care homes. In medical practices, however, some federal states have now lifted the obligation for staff to wear them.

The FDP health politician Andrew Ullmann repeated his party's call for the remaining state-imposed pandemic measures to be ended now and for clinics, practices and care facilities to decide for themselves on their hygiene rules. The chairwoman of the AOK federal association, Carola Reimann, on the other hand, called for the mask requirement for visitors to clinics and nursing homes to be extended until early summer. Those in need of care and the sick needed special protection, she told the newspapers of the Funke media group.