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Flixbus to restart long-distance journeys in Germany

Following a pause due to the coronavirus, travellers and commuters in Germany can once again take long-distance bus journeys from Thursday.

Flixbus to restart long-distance journeys in Germany
Archive photo shows a Flixbus in Frankfurt am Main. Photo: DPA

After a break of more than two months due to the spread of coronavirus, budget bus firm Flixbus has announced it will start running again from May 28th. The company announced that it will also be back in service in Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic and Denmark.

A total of 26 buses will be on the road again, initially making almost 50 stops, the German market leader announced on Friday May 22nd. Before the crisis there had been 10 times as many stops, however businesses are gradually taking steps to open up again.

Due to the spread of the novel coronavirus, the buses have been stationary since March 18th. Competitors like Blablabus and Pinkbus have not yet announced when they will resume services.

Aim for safe travel

“We want to ensure safe travel even in these corona times,” Flixbus managing director Andre Schwämmlein told DPA.

A hygiene plan has been developed:

  • Buses are to be disinfected after each journey
  • A safety distance of 1.5 metres applies at bus stops and when getting on and off.
  • Tickets are checked without contact, while disinfectant is available

As is the case with train journeys, however, seats will not be blocked off, Schwämmlein said. “This is not economically feasible,” he said.

But passengers must wear face masks during the entire journey, and bosses have urged passengers not to travel if they are unwell or have coronavirus symptoms.

Meanwhile, there's good news for customers: Schwämmeln said trips should not get more expensive. “We assume we can maintain the price level we had before the crisis,” he said.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about travelling in Germany this summer

Toilets will not open

Besides large cities such as Berlin, Leipzig, Nuremberg, Hamburg, Frankfurt am Main and Munich, smaller cities such as Bayreuth, Himmelkron, Titisee-Neustadt, Weimar and Wolpertshausen will also be on the routes, Flixbus announced.

Toilets will remain closed on the bus as a safety measure. However, bus drivers will regularly take passengers to service stops, the company said.

Many travel firms are struggling in the face of the coronavirus shutdown.

However, Flixbus bosses believe the firm can get through it. “We will survive this crisis,” said Schwämmlein.

In 2019 Flixbus carried more than 62 million passengers worldwide. This year the company hopes to continue to expand its services. There's currently no date for when the Flixtrain will be available again.

Flixbus is counting on being able to operate cross-border services again soon. “We hope that a responsible European solution will be established in the next few weeks,” said Schwämmeln.

READ ALSO: Germany aims to lift warning against worldwide travel from mid-June

Meanwhile, the company supports demands by the bus industry for state aid. “Everyone can survive three months, but we must consider how to help in the next 12 to 18 months,” said Schwämmlein. “Otherwise many won't survive.”

German Transportation Minister Andreas Scheuer, of the centre-right CSU, recently announced aid of around €170 million for the bus industry.

Vocabulary

Safety distance – (der) Sicherheitsabstand

Disinfected – desinfiziert

Not economically feasible – wirtschaftlich nicht darstellbar

Price level – (das) Preisniveau

We're aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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COVID-19

Is the pandemic over in Germany?

As much of Germany lifts - or prepares to lift - the last remaining Covid-19 measures, intensive care units say Covid-19 admissions are no longer straining the system.

Is the pandemic over in Germany?

Despite a difficult winter of respiratory illnesses, intensive care units in Germany say Covid-19 admissions have almost halved. The number of cases having to be treated in the ICU has gone down to 800 from 1,500 at the beginning of this month.

“Corona is no longer a problem in intensive care units,” Gernot Marx, Vice President of the German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine, told the German Editorial Network. “A the moment, we don’t have to think every day about how to still ensure the care of patients, but how to actually run a service that can help.”

Marx said the drop has allowed them to catch up on many postponed surgeries.

The number of sick employees in hospitals is also falling, helping to relieve the pressure on personnel.

The easing pressure on hospitals correlates with the assessment of prominent virologist and head of the Virology department at Berlin’s Charite – Christian Drosten – who said in December that the pandemic was close to ending, with the winter wave being an endemic one.

German federal and state governments are now in the midst of lifting the last of the country’s pandemic-related restrictions. Free Covid-19 antigen tests for most people, with exceptions for medical personnel, recently ended.

READ ALSO: Free Covid-19 tests end in Germany

Six federal states – Bavaria, Baden-Württemberg, Hessen, Thuringia, Lower Saxony, and Schleswig-Holstein – have ended mandatory isolation periods for people who test positive for Covid-19.

Bavaria, Saxony-Anhalt, and Schleswig-Holstein have ended the requirement to wear FFP2 masks on public transport, while Berlin, Brandenburg, Saxony, Thuringia, and Mecklenburg-West Pomerania will follow suit on February 2nd.

At that time, the federal government will also drop its requirement for masks to be worn on long-distance trains. Labour Minister Hubertus Heil says that’s when he also intends to exempt workplaces – apart from medical locations – from a mask requirement.

READ ALSO: Germany to drop mask mandate in trains and buses from February 2nd

Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg will also end the requirement for patients to wear a mask in doctor’s offices. That’s a requirement that, so far, will stay in place everywhere else. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has also said that he thinks this requirement should remain. 

But some public health insurers and general practitioners are calling for a nationwide end to the obligation for wearing masks in doctor’s offices.

“The pandemic situation is over,” National Association of Statutory Health Physicians (KBV) Chair Andreas Gassen told the RND network. “High-risk patients aren’t treated in all practices. It should generally be left up to medical colleagues to decide whether they want to require masks in their practices.”

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