The mask requirement on long-distance trains falls in February. That’s good. Almost everyone can then decide for themselves whether to protect themselves and others. This has been the case in most other areas for some time – such as restaurants, bars and shops. This certainly poses a risk for vulnerable groups. But Germany – and many other countries that do it this way – are getting through the pandemic well overall.
If the situation deteriorates in the next few months, Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) can reintroduce the obligation just as quickly as he cleared it.
With the obligation to wear masks on trains, the last protective measure against the virus that is visible in public spaces is also dropped – with the exception of medical practices and clinics. The few federal states that still have such a rule in local public transport will also delete it by February.
So team caution has largely disappeared from everyday life. And this development is coming faster than Minister Lauterbach would like – probably also because of the vulnerable groups.
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End of the mask requirement on long-distance trains: Lauterbach’s about-face
Lauterbach has been reluctant to make forecasts about the course of the pandemic that are too pessimistic for some time. But when it came to the mask question, the minister became increasingly lonely. On Wednesday it was “too early” for Lauterbach to suspend the rule.
“We have full clinics and staff failures,” he told Stern. Justice Minister Marco Buschmann (FDP) had already called for the end of the mask requirement in a letter and several federal states had announced that they would waive the rule in local public transport.
When Lauterbach announced the turnaround on Friday, there was no longer any talk of full clinics. Instead, he spoke of declining hospital admissions and a stable pandemic situation. Anyone who misplaced the statements from a few days ago would no longer recognize Lauterbach.
The facts had not changed in the short time either. Lauterbach gave the impression that he had given in to political pressure. In pandemic politics, he has gone from being the driver to being driven.
More: Mask requirement in long-distance traffic ends on February 2nd