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Only “mask recommendation” on buses and trains? Now the struggle starts again

If Daniel Günther (CDU) had had his way alone, in Schleswig-Holstein the mask requirement on buses and trains would have fallen this week.

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Only “mask recommendation” on buses and trains? Now the struggle starts again

If Daniel Günther (CDU) had had his way alone, in Schleswig-Holstein the mask requirement on buses and trains would have fallen this week. From the point of view of the head of government in Kiel, the result of a hearing in the Schleswig-Holstein state parliament was so clear.

There, the experts surveyed had recommended not only waiving the obligation to isolate for symptom-free corona infected people, but also an end to the obligation to wear masks on buses and trains. After an intervention by the Green coalition partner, the head of government decided not to implement this plan immediately.

Now the mask requirement in the north should fall by January 1st at the latest. If possible, said Günther in a press conference, in agreement with all 16 federal states. Appropriate discussions would be held.

But such a nationwide farewell to mouth and nose protection in buses and trains will not happen in the foreseeable future. Negative signals even came from Schleswig-Holstein's neighboring countries over the weekend.

Lower Saxony's state government strictly rejected any relaxation of the corona rules in the near future. In any case, nothing will change in the federal state this winter, either in terms of the obligation to isolate or wear a mask in public transport, according to Hanover.

"Even if we all wish for something else, the pandemic is not over," said Lower Saxony's Prime Minister Stephan Weil (SPD) when asked by WELT. In the cold season, the problems “experience shows are even greater. Against this background, we will remain cautious in Lower Saxony,” said Weil.

The initiative by the state government in Kiel was also met with skepticism in Hamburg and Bremen. The senates of both Hanseatic cities currently see no reason to update the current corona rules.

And the initiative from Kiel is also causing new disputes in the federal government and not agreement in dealing with the Corona rules. The fronts along which the debate is developing are well-known and once again run right through the coalition factions.

The health policy spokesman for the FDP parliamentary group, Andrew Ullmann, is calling for the mask requirement on buses and trains to be replaced by a “mask recommendation”. “Because citizens can protect themselves and make their own decisions. Other countries have already shown us how to do it,” says Ullmann.

Anyone who becomes infected with the corona virus will soon no longer have to be isolated at home in certain federal states. Criticism comes from the Federal Minister of Health. "There will be a stronger increase in the number of cases," predicts Lauterbach.

Source: WELT / Paul Klinzing

His colleague from the Greens, Janosch Dahmen, could not make friends with such a regulation. Dahmen criticized both the waiver of the obligation to isolate announced by Schleswig-Holstein in conjunction with Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg and Hesse and the end of the mask requirement in local and long-distance transport demanded by Günther.

There are no new, medically evident reasons, the Greens politician told WELT, “why the previously legally stipulated separation and isolation requirements or the requirement to wear a mask in local transport should now be deviated from”.

Rather, “the consistent interruption of corona infection chains and the reduction of infection risks against the background of a sharp increase in seasonal respiratory diseases in the coming months are extremely important”.

The health policy spokeswoman for the SPD in the Bundestag, Heike Baehrens, was less decisive. The Infection Protection Act, said Baehrens, allows the federal states to design their protective measures flexibly. "I assume that they will do so to the best of their knowledge and belief so that we can all get through this winter well."

Tino Sorge (CDU), health policy spokesman for the Union faction, welcomed the decision by Schleswig-Holstein, Bavaria, Hesse and Baden-Württemberg to abolish the obligation to isolate infected people. The obligation to wear masks on buses and trains has proven to be “an effective tool” in the acute phase of the pandemic. But it remains "an intervention that must not continue without reason".

The AfD welcomed Günther's plans to abolish the mask requirement. "It would be even better if other federal states followed this example," says AfD health politician Martin Sichert.

"Kick-off Politics" is WELT's daily news podcast. The most important topic, analyzed by WELT editors, and the dates of the day. Subscribe to the podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Amazon Music, among others, or directly via RSS feed.

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