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Passengers will face more fines: NRW wants to add more mask checks

Passengers will face more fines : NRW wants to add more mask checks

Since April, masks have been compulsory on buses and trains. But five per cent of passengers do not adhere to it, according to train operator Abellio. In Bonn and other NRW cities, numerous infringements have already been punished.

Transport operators are extending their controls on the obligation to wear masks. Every day, employees are conducting checks in buses and trains as well as at bus stops and stations. They take strict action against passengers not wearing a mask. "Violations show that it is necessary to use controls to draw attention to the masking requirement", explained the NRW Transport Ministry. In close coordination with the ministry, the transport companies planned further priority checks, for example in Mönchengladbach, Düren, Oberhausen and Siegburg.

220 violations in Bonn

In Bonn, joint inspections with the municipal utilities have identified a total of 220 infringements since mid-August 2020, said spokesperson Marc Hoffmann upon request. According to the Rhein-Sieg-Verkehrsgesellschaft (RSVG), masked mufflers in the company's buses are extremely exceptional cases. This had been shown by further priority checks after the major inspection at the end of August. During the three-hour campaigns, one passenger on each was travelling without a mask, the company informs on request.

417 fines in Duisburg

There are a lot of masked people in Duisburg, every fifth passenger checked was conspicuous here. Since the middle of May, the Duisburger Verkehrsgesellschaft (DVG) has checked almost 110,000 passengers. Around 20,000 did not wear their mouth and nose protection properly or at all. 1300 passengers were expelled from the vehicles. The public order office imposed a total of 417 fines of 150 Euro each. Concrete figures are also provided by Stadtwerke Krefeld: since the end of April, inspectors have identified 30 to 50 people who refused to wear a mask.

The private provider Abellio, which operates several regional railway lines, reports that five percent of passengers do not comply with the requirement to wear a mouth and nose protection. Abellio found the highest number of refusals at platforms, stations and in station buildings.

The vast majority of passengers do comply with the obligation to wear masks, says a Deutsche Bahn spokeswoman. But customers who refuse to cover their mouths and noses after repeated requests will not be accepted. "If a very small minority disregards valid rules, this is unacceptable to us".

If the rules are broken, the passenger must leave the train

The Düsseldorf Rheinbahn expressed a similar opinion, but did not give any concrete figures. "Wearing the mask does not cost money and does not hurt," appealed the Rheinbahn spokeswoman. "Masks have been proven to protect against infection in buses and trains. The Krefeld public utilities company sells masks for one euro during ongoing operations.

Anyone caught without a mask and showing a lack of understanding must expect to be fined. Passengers who refuse to wear a mouth-and-nose protection must expect a fine of 150 euros. "If an offence is discovered during the journey, the person concerned must leave the train at the next stop and will be met by the federal police there to receive the non-compliant person," says a spokesperson of the Rhine-Ruhr Transport Association (VRR). Abellio proceeds in a similar way. "We are very strict and make use of our domestic authority," says the spokesperson. "Passengers who refuse to wear a mouth-and-nose protection, even after being asked to do so, are excluded from transport.

The NRW Transport Ministry insists on further checks. They strengthened confidence and the certainty that bus and train are safe means of transport. "Wearing the mouth-nose cover is a question of solidarity", said Transport Minister Hendrik Wüst. "For passengers, it means only a small inconvenience, which prevents a major disaster.“

(Original text: Jan Luhrenberg and Merlin Bartel, Translation: Mareike Graepel)