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Corona pandemic: the end of the mask requirement may soon also be on the ICE

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More and more federal states are leaving the masks in local transport. Is the federal government now tipping the obligation on the ICE, IC or Flixbus earlier than planned? The FDP is putting pressure on it, and the train and passenger association are also in favor of it.

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After the announced or already implemented end of the mask requirement in public transport in nine federal states, this could also fall earlier than planned in long-distance trains and long-distance buses. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) considers such a step possible. In his opinion, things shouldn’t go that fast. FDP politicians and passenger representatives put the pressure on.

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Deutsche Bahn is also in favor of an early end to the mask requirement in long-distance transport “in the coming weeks”. “As in air transport, we should also rely on voluntariness in long-distance transport,” said the group on request. “A patchwork quilt with a wide variety of regulations is becoming increasingly difficult to convey to passengers and employees.”

The railway and transport union (EVG) criticized the currently different regulations in the federal states and warned that employees in bus and train should not become the scapegoat and have to pay for the foreseeable chaos of the regulations. “Then it would be better to rely on the voluntariness and reason of the travelers,” said EVG Deputy Chairman Kristian Loroch.

Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt and Schleswig-Holstein had already abolished the mask requirement on their public transport. Berlin, Brandenburg, Thuringia, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Saxony and Baden-Württemberg will follow suit by the beginning of February. For Baden-Württemberg, the move to January 31 became known on Wednesday. “This is a logical step in our step-by-step approach to dealing with the pandemic,” said State Minister of Health Manne Lucha (Greens) of the German Press Agency. The country had already abolished the obligation to isolate infected people at the end of 2022.

The federal government is responsible for long-distance transport, i.e. ICEs, ICs, ECs and long-distance buses such as Flixbus. According to the current Infection Protection Act, FFP2 masks are still mandatory here until April 7th.

Lauterbach: Don’t set a date

“It may well be that we will abolish the mask requirement earlier,” Lauterbach told the “Stern”. “But I don’t want to commit myself to a date.” It is important to monitor the situation very closely and then evaluate it. At the moment it is “still too early”. “We still have full clinics and staff failures.”

The government partner FDP renewed its demands on Wednesday to end the mask requirement immediately. The FDP health politician Christine Aschenberg-Dugnus said: “We should agree as soon as possible to convert the mask requirement into a recommendation. Just as has been the case in air traffic for a long time.” The fact that from Bavaria to Schleswig-Holstein there is a mask requirement on the ICE on one and the same route and not in regional traffic can no longer be conveyed.

FDP General Secretary Bijan Djir-Sarai wrote on Twitter that the mask requirement in long-distance transport should end “at the latest at the beginning of February”. “All corona measures should be dropped. Anyone can continue to wear a mask voluntarily.”

The passenger association Pro Bahn joined the demands. “We would very much welcome an end to the mask requirement in long-distance transport,” said the association’s honorary chairman, Karl-Peter Naumann, on Wednesday to the German Press Agency. “You can’t explain to anyone why you need a mask on the white ICE and no longer on the red regional train.” He called for a uniform regulation. A patchwork quilt only leads to more misunderstanding and more aggression against the staff.

It is true that the mask requirement in long-distance transport is prescribed in the Infection Protection Act until April. However, an earlier repeal would not require a change in the law and therefore no referral to the Bundestag. The law also gives the federal government the option of repealing the regulation by means of a simple ordinance.

Source: Stern

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