As part of coronavirus measures, people in Germany must wear a covering over their face and mouth when riding on public transport and in certain closed areas such as shops.
Now new figures reported in the Tagesspiegel show that tens of thousands of people in the capital are ignoring the rules.
The Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG) said their staff had spotted around 30,000 violations of the mask rules in the last three weeks.
These people “were encountered and approached without a protective mask”, the Tagesspiegel reports.
Meanwhile, 1,300 masks have been distributed, and about 100 passengers have been able to present a certificate exempting them from wearing a mask. In about 80 cases, BVG inspectors and security staff have been threatened and insulted.
The mask requirement has been in force since April 27th in Berlin but since July 7th, compliance has been monitored by the BVG.
Berlin's government voted on June 23rd to slap €50 fines on people who don't wear a face mask when it is mandatory to do so, such as when travelling on public transport or in shops.
The fines range from €50 to €500. The €500 fine applies if someone repeatedly violated the obligation to wear masks.
According to the BVG, around 200 €50 penalties have been handed out to passengers so far.
What's Germany's official stance on masks during Covid times?
The government says that to protect people at close proximity, states “have introduced rules on wearing non-medical mouth and nose masks, called community masks, when travelling on public transport and when shopping”.
Rules on wearing mouth and nose masks can differ from region to region, so the government urges people to check the rules where you live.
“At all times, even if you wear a mouth and nose mask: keep at least 1.5 metres away from others, practice good hand hygiene and adhere to sneezing and coughing etiquette,” says the German government advise. They also urge people not to buy medical masks such as FFP 2 and FFP 3 for private use.
“These should be kept for medical staff only,” says the advice.
People who can't wear a mask for medical reasons do not have to do so. They can receive a note from their doctor to explain the situation if needed.
It comes as the number of confirmed coronavirus infections in the German capital continues to rise. Most recently, 79 new cases were reported; according to the Tagesspiegel – the highest increase within a day since the end of June.
Around 9,000 cases in total have been registered in Berlin since the start of the pandemic, with about 220 deaths, according to the Robert Koch Institute.
There have been concerns that people ignoring distancing rules at large parties in Berlin's parks could fuel a rise in infections. On Tuesday night, up to 1,200 people gathered in the Hasenheide park in Neukölln, according to police.
Deutsche Bahn suffers biggest loss in its history
Meanwhile, Germany's state train operator Deutsche Bahn says the coronavirus pandemic has plunged the firm “into the worst financial crisis in its history”.
In the first half of the year, Deutsche Bahn posted a loss of €3.7 billion, the company announced. The number of passengers fell by 37 percent to just under 663 million, while revenue dropped by almost 12 percent to €19.4 billion.
According to CEO Richard Lutz, however, Deutsche Bahn will continue to invest and hire more people as part of the government's climate protection programme which urges people to choose rail travel over flying to help the environment.