The first loosening of coronavirus restrictions came into effect in Germany on Monday, 20 April. Several regions are now ramping up their regional rail services again, to accommodate the expected rise in passenger numbers.
The measures put in place are not nationwide. As a federal country, Germany has 16 states and the decision-making with regards to local passenger rail services falls to them. They in turn either commission third-party organisations or their own bodies to co-ordinate the local rail services. There are 27 of these in the country.
In southern Germany (Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg) the number of rail connections in regional and S-Bahn services run by DB Regio AG will increase with the regular timetable becoming effective again as of 20 April.
However, this relaxation of measures goes hand-in-hand with chancellor Merkel’s appeal to the population to wear a mask while out in public, particularly in those areas where the minimum distance of 1.5m cannot be guaranteed, i.e. on public transport. Merkel’s government did not make this measure mandatory. However, some states, such as Saxony have and others, like Bavaria, will follow suit. All passengers using public transport in Saxony and Thuringia need to cover their mouth and nose. Regional services here will gradually increase from 4 May.
Merkel and other members of government, such as minister presidents of Germany’s federal states, will address the public again on 30 April to review the effect of the measures so far and to make adjustments. This means the next potential relaxation of restrictions will become effective on 4 May.
Similar measures with slight variations in timings are in place throughout the country. However, Merkel was keen to stress that the effect of any measure taken today could only be seen in 14 days, therefore caution is paramount.
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