Düsseldorf Up to now, fines have only been imposed in NRW if passengers continue to refuse to put on the mask despite being requested to do so. This warning period is to be dropped.
In the future North Rhine-Westphalia wants to impose an immediate fine of 150 Euro for violations of the mask obligation in buses, suburban trains or trams. NRW Transportation Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) told the newspaper "Rheinische Post": "By now everyone should have understood that masks are compulsory in buses and trains. Therefore, it is quite clear: Anyone caught without wearing a mask must get off at the next stop and pay". Wüst announced: "We want a tightening of the rule, so that a fine of 150 Euro is due immediately at the first violation of the mask obligation.“
The tightening is to come into effect with a revision of the NRW Corona Protection Ordinance in the middle of next week, a ministry spokesman said. It will then apply to all trains, including long-distance trains in NRW.
So far, fines in NRW will only be imposed if passengers continue to refuse to put on the mask despite being asked to do so. This warning is to be dropped. Wüst said that they did not want "no more long discussions with mask mufflers". He said it was about solidarity with the weakest in society. "The small inconvenience of wearing the mask prevents a possible catastrophe."
Problems with people refusing wearing the masks are mainly in recreational traffic, said the ministry spokesman. In contrast, commuters wear the mask almost 100 percent of the time.
In the fight against the corona pandemic, masks are obligatory in trade and local traffic nationwide - but the actual design and regulations regarding sanctions are state matters. In Bavaria, for example, the catalogue of fines for violation of the mask obligation already provides for 150 Euro. In Berlin, a fine of 50 to 500 Euro is envisaged for violations of the obligation to wear a mask.
In view of a renewed rise in the number of corona infections, Federal Minister of Economics Peter Altmaier had recently spoken out in favour of tougher penalties for violations of the corona rules. "What we are seeing at the moment in terms of increased risk is essentially due to the careless and sometimes irresponsible misconduct of a very small number of people", said the Minister. "We must stop this more effectively than we have done so far and effectively punish cases where infections and outbreaks occur as a result: This includes fines and penalties in cases of intent or gross negligence".
With a view to the start of school after the summer holidays, several federal states are also introducing compulsory masks in school buildings. North Rhine-Westphalia is going particularly far in this respect - here, such a duty will even apply in secondary and vocational schools.
(Original text: dpa / Translation: Mareike Graepel)