Compulsory use of masks and public transport Not everyone in Bonn wears a mask in buses and on trains

Bonn · The obligation to protect mouth and nose already applies at the bus stop. But even employees of the public utility company do not always comply with the regulations. However, there are also citizens who are exempt from the obligation – but have to be able to prove it.

 In buses and trains, the wearing of a mask is mandatory not only during the journey but also at the bus stop.

In buses and trains, the wearing of a mask is mandatory not only during the journey but also at the bus stop.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

Only a few minutes have passed since the bus of line 601 left the main station. Three young people, perhaps twelve or 13 years old, are getting on at a stop in the direction of Tannenbusch. The two boys and the girl get on the bus without wearing a mask and sit down in the back. The bus leaves the stop. Only when they are seated they put their masks on. But one of the boys pulls them back under his chin shortly afterwards. Probably because that makes it easier to chat. The girl lets her mask hang down by one ear most of the time. When the three get off at Bertha-von-Suttner-Platz, they take their masks off their faces before they get off.

The bus fills up more and more, but is not yet packed. An announcement instructs the passengers to wear a mouth guard or to leave the vehicle immediately. "I take the bus twice a day," says Jost Grünefeld. The 26-year-old also noticed the three young people. "This is the first time that someone has not worn a mask," he says. "But the mask on the girl was probably broken. Maybe the others didn't wear it out of solidarity." But so far everybody he saw wore the mask, Grünefeld says. The only thing he notices is that sometimes people first get on the bus and then put the mask on. While he is talking, another boy of about twelve years old is sitting nearby, who has pulled the mask up to slightly below his mouth. Only when he gets off at "An der Josefshöhe" does he put the mask back on.

GA reader Linda Mattern described her experiences to the GA: "In the late evening hours, I have already seen buses with only a few passengers, in which no passenger wore a mask at all.“ She had received the answer from the Quality Assurance Office of the Stadtwerke Bonn that the SWB only had the task of informing the passengers and appealing to their sense of reason and responsibility. The control and punishment is the sole responsibility of the public order office.

SWB spokesman Michael Henseler contradicts this and admits an error by the employee from the QA responsible for the answer to Mattern. "That is not true," says Henseler. "Our campaign 'Protect yourself and others. Show consideration' continues to run via digital displays, loudspeakers and through tape announcements that the drivers play or repeat over the microphone system. If passengers fail to comply with the masks, they will be advised to wear masks by the drivers. It hardly ever happens that passengers come into conflict with each other or with the drivers.“

Mattern tells of verbal disputes to physical attacks among passengers as well as against the driver. Vice city spokesman Marc Hoffmann answers: "In very few exceptional cases, there have been disputes that we have been able to resolve by involving the police. We have not noticed attacks on bus drivers due to the mask obligation and did not need to report anything to the police.“

Reiner Sondag travels daily on bus number 601. "Two or three times a day I notice that no masks are worn," he says. When he recently rode bus line 605, he saw four or five people not wearing masks. "It's these people's fault if we get a second wave of infection," he says. But that's not even the worst of it. "They don't even keep their distance on the buses," complains the 60-year-old. He can understand why certain people take off their masks. "With older people, I can understand. I have a patient who has asthma. When she puts the mask on, it is torment for her.“

But not only passengers, also employees of the SWB are said to have traveled without masks. Linda Mattern, for example, noticed two SWB employees on line 66 wearing uniforms, and one of the two men was not wearing a mask when he boarded. Only when she asked him about it did he put his mask on. Press spokesman Hoffmann said: "It can happen in a few individual cases that employees are exempt from the obligation to wear a mask for health reasons. This also applies to passengers.“

Henseler reports the same. These citizens would have to carry a medical certificate with them and show it on request. When leaving the train, the SWB employee immediately took off his mask, although, as Mattern emphasises, the mask should also be worn on the platform. This is confirmed by the spokesman for the public utility company, Henseler, when asked: "Masks are mandatory at all stops.“

It’s now 7:53 pm. Again, on line 601. Another young man gets on, who only puts on the mask when he is already sitting in a seat. At 8.22pm the bus arrives at Central Station. Everyone gets off. Three or four people get on. All wear their masks before they do so.

(Original text: Thomas Leurs and Philipp Königs / Translation: Mareike Graepel)

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