Linder praises, Lauterbach not: Two countries are abolishing the obligation to wear masks in public transport

Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt say goodbye to the mask requirement before Christmas.

Linder praises, Lauterbach not: Two countries are abolishing the obligation to wear masks in public transport

Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt say goodbye to the mask requirement before Christmas. They are taking the second major step in easing the corona measures within a short period of time. Only a few days ago, the obligation to isolate people who tested positive fell there.

Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt will abolish the obligation to wear masks in local public transport this week. In the Free State, the regulation will be lifted on December 10th. In Saxony-Anhalt, the mask requirement should already fall on December 8th.

Instead, only a recommendation to wear masks will apply, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder explains the decision on Twitter. "The proposal by Health Minister Klaus Holetschek is correct. The infection situation has been stable for a long time. We are using Austria as an example." There is still no official statement from Saxony-Anhalt.

To protect against the transmission of infections with the corona virus, Bavaria, like other federal states, decided in April 2020 to wear mouth and nose covers in public. As the number of severe corona diseases fell, the obligation was gradually withdrawn. Local public transport, where there are often crowds on buses and trains and physical contact among passengers, is one of the last public situations in which masks are required in Bavaria.

The obligation to wear masks in local public transport has always been a point of contention in the public debate. The lifting of the regulation in Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt also causes different reactions. Federal Finance Minister Christian Lindner from the FDP spoke on Twitter of a "right decision". He hopes that this decision will "soon catch on nationwide".

Federal Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach, however, criticized the decision. "I'm just not convinced of that," said the SPD politician in Berlin. In the conference of health ministers with the federal states, he and the President of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), Lothar Wieler, made it clear again on Monday that there were no reasons to say that masks and the isolation of corona avoid infected people. Lauterbach referred to a more contagious virus variant to be expected, as well as other RS ​​viruses and a wave of flu. Lauterbach follows the recommendations of medicine and science.

The Association of Transport Companies (VDV) welcomed the end of the mask requirement in Bavaria and Saxony-Anhalt, but at the same time warned of problems with cross-border journeys. The initiative is "comprehensible in terms of content, but will lead to difficulties for the staff in practice because the regulations are different than in the neighboring federal states and there are many local transport connections across state borders," said spokesman Lars Wagner. In principle, however, the obligation to wear masks on buses and trains can be lifted from the point of view of the association.

The health ministers of the federal states had not initially found any agreement on further changes to the corona protection specifications on Monday evening in Magdeburg. Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Schleswig-Holstein, Hesse and Rhineland-Palatinate had previously lifted the isolation requirement of at least five days for those who tested positive. No uniform line was decided on how to proceed with the mask requirement in buses and trains in local transport. For long-distance trains, this is stipulated by law nationwide until April 7, 2023.

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