In the tram on line 18, a man in his fifties was strolling in his wooden seat. With his streaked jeans legs he seems to mark his territory, and with his light blue mask on his face he looks somehow superior. In a way, it is: ten people sit on the tram, all at a distance, but he is the only one who wears a protective mask. This is exactly what is now becoming a duty: On Monday, Prime Minister Markus Söder (CSU) announced that Bavaria would introduce a mask requirement in public transport and in all shops from next week. So the man in the tram is prepared.
In these Corona times, there is usually so much space in the tram, bus and subway that hardly any people in Munich get too close. Even in front of the few open shops in the old town, there is neither jostling nor too close contacts. In front of the Ringlers in Sendlinger Straße there are people who buy their lunch there at two-meter intervals, but nobody is masked here on Monday afternoon.
How Prime Minister Söder’s announcement is to be implemented remains to be seen. The Munich Transport and Tariff Association MVV had already “urgently” appealed to passengers last Thursday to wear mouth-nose protection on buses and trains. MVV Managing Director Bernd Rosenbusch said: “Protect yourself and others and wear a cover for your mouth and nose, also sewn yourself or in the form of a bandana.”
But for the Munich transport company MVG it is “a thing of the impossibility” to also check the mask requirement. “It is the responsibility of the passengers to wear a mask,” MVG spokesman Matthias Korte said. The transport company only has the appeal to pay attention to the current offer and to comply with the obligation from next week. Because there are “no additional resources available” to check whether the mask is mandatory or to reject passengers.
Although it is conceivable that in future buses, trams and subways will address individual passengers to the requirement to wear a mask, a massive check is difficult to imagine given the fact that there are 100 subway stations and more than 1,000 stops. Korte also points out that Munich’s transport operations should remain as stable as possible even in Corona times. “We have only reduced our timetable offer selectively so that the passengers have space and can keep as much distance as possible.”
“We will fire from all tubes to appeal to the personal responsibility of the passengers.”
The MVG therefore wanted to keep a close eye on the development of passenger traffic in the coming days, especially if school operations are to be started up again slowly in the coming week. In the past few days, there were apparently fewer than 100 people traveling per subway, which was sufficient for the distance control. In pre-Corona times, it was 800 to 900, said Korte.
From this Tuesday, the MVG still wants to massively promote the wearing of masks, then posters should also point this out in subway stations and other stops. “We will fire from all tubes to appeal to the personal responsibility of the passengers.”
The city center traders, on the other hand, are already looking forward to the gradual opening of the shops. “All companies that want to open next week have got masks,” said Wolfgang Fischer, spokesman for the City Partner dealer initiative. These are primarily intended for store employees, but he assumes that they will also be available to customers. Fischer sees the careful opening of economic life as a “sign of hope in the right direction”.
He has also seen for himself that some retailers who have already opened have in some cases developed “witty low-tech solutions” for their customers in order to minimize the risk of infection. However, Fischer made “an urgent request” to politicians to make partial openings of large stores possible soon and also to think of Munich’s gastronomy. Because if there were shops open but no bars, not many people would come to shop, he fears.
Maybe wearing protective masks will help restaurants to open earlier. The Munich CSU faction called on Monday to set up several market stalls in the pedestrian zone where masks are sold. MVG is also considering selling masks in the future.