Germany will no longer require masks in trains and buses as of February 2

As the coronavirus epidemic eased its grip on the nation, authorities declared Friday that face mask use on long-distance trains and buses will no longer be required as of February 2.

Following discussions with ministers from Germany’s 16 federal states, Minister of Health Karl Lauterbach declared that “the infection situation has stabilized.”

However, Lauterbach urged people to keep using masks “on the basis of personal responsibility,” adding that “the virus should not be trivialized,” and admonishing of potential long-term effects.

Lauterbach attributed the policy shift to a number of variables, including a higher degree of public immunity and a decreased likelihood of new mutations, which made a winter comeback of the virus unlikely.In hospitals, the situation is “tight but manageable,” Lauterbach continued.

The requirement, which has been in place since the early stages of the pandemic, had been scheduled to expire on April 7 but will now end sooner.

A number of German states had already relaxed mask rules in regional public transport, but rules on the country’s long-distance train and bus network remain the central government’s responsibility.

Germany was one of the few remaining countries in Europe to keep a mask requirement, with many having scrapped rules or downgraded them to recommendations in 2022.

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