Germany set to scrap mask obligation on long-distance trains

Germany set to scrap mask obligation on long-distance trains

Almost three years after they were introduced, Germany is set to drop the requirement to wear masks on long-distance trains and buses.

German mask mandate dropped from February

For many, masks feel like the last remaining reminder that the coronavirus lives on, but not for much longer. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach announced on Friday that the national mandate for masks on long-distance public transport in Germany would be scrapped come February 2, 2023. However, for now, FFP2 masks will continue to be mandatory in healthcare settings.

The obligation to wear an FFP2 mask on public transport in Germany is one of the last policies installed as part of the Infection Protection Act. Though the rule was due to expire on April 7, politicians have now moved the date forward.

When it comes to coronavirus regulations, Germany has been a particularly cautious actor on the international stage. At the beginning of December Saxony-Anhalt and Bavaria became the first federal states to remove the mask obligations on public transport. More states followed, but the authority to remove masks on long-distance trains remained with the federal government in Berlin.

Then, just after Christmas, when top virologist Christian Drosten declared coronavirus officially over, many German politicians made pleas to Lauterbach to scrap the country’s remaining mask policies, an effort which has obviously proven successful.

Lauerbach calls coronavirus situation stable

Throughout the pandemic, Lauterbach has been known for not giving in to pressure to revoke coronavirus restrictions that the doctor believes are in the country’s better interests, so much so that he earned himself the title of Besserwisser (know-it-all) by his critics.

Now, Lauterbach has said that the country’s coronavirus situation has stabilised enough to safely remove all transport mask obligations.

Speaking about his decision, the SPD politician and trained epidemiologist said that the number of people in hospital with coronavirus is continuing to decline. "The population has built up high immunity, and the experts who advise us no longer believe there will be another big, serious wave during winter," he explained.

"At this point, we also don't foresee particularly dangerous variants reaching us in the coming weeks and months,'' Lauterbach concluded. However, the minister still urged people to voluntarily wear a mask indoors.

Thumb image credit: Peeradontax /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan



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