Because of the large number of new infections, Offenbach’s law enforcement officers are now almost exclusively concerned with mouth and nose protection.
Is that a joke? ”Asks the young man, whom a city policeman prevented on Friday afternoon from leaving the S-Bahn station on Offenbach’s market square unmolested. The accusation: Use of public transport without mouth and nose protection. Even after a brief discussion, the person concerned does not seem to be aware of any guilt – after all, he has a mask with him, he explains. To prove it, he digs a chic-looking black piece of cloth from the pocket of his sweatpants. But that doesn’t change the law enforcement officer: “This is the wrong place for it, he just says – and collects 50 euros on the spot.
“We are constantly registering violations of the mask requirement,” says the new head of the Offenbach city police, Lothar Haack, who is present at the controls on Friday. For “psychological reasons” it is good if people pay their fines directly, explains the ex-police officer – also because others will then notice. On Friday, four to five officials in the S-Bahn station on Marktplatz punished 45 violations of the mask requirement within an hour, the city announced in retrospect – on Thursday there were 49.
Some people don’t wear a mask at all, some just cover their mouth or chin. “Due to the sheer mass of those who wear their masks incorrectly or not at all, some of us fail,” admits Haack. So also on Friday: While four people hand in their personal details at the same time and thus bind the staff of the city police, many people walk past the busy inspectors without face masks. Volunteers from the “Voluntary Police Service” are now supporting the city police with the controls.
Last week, bus and train travelers or shoppers without a mask were mostly only warned and informed by the Offenbach city police – and allowed to walk again without a fine. But since the new corona infections in the city rocketed about a week ago as a result of numerous infected travelers returning and an apparently highly infectious bus trip to a Dutch cheese factory, the city police have been handling the issue more strictly. “It’s also about the deterrent effect,” says Mayor Felix Schwenke (SPD), who has accompanied the controls several times this week.
Next week it’s the turn of the districts
In the next few days, the city police will only deal with the Corona issue: The officials have been checking supermarkets, hairdressing salons and bars since Thursday from morning to night – and at bus stops and S-Bahn stations. Next week it’s the turn of the districts. Most of the time, people tried to talk themselves out of the fact that they didn’t know anything about the mask requirement, says City Police Chief Haack. There are many young people and many older people among the maskless – but comparatively few are middle-aged.
Mayor Schwenke emphasizes that after the rapid increase in the number of infections, a “total package of measures” was quickly put together – the increased controls were part of it. Further steps include renewed restrictions on visits to nursing homes and sports, where only ten people are allowed to train together without contact.
When walking through restaurants in Offenbach masks have to be worn again. The city has also launched a multilingual information campaign and distributed flyers in shops, buses, companies, associations and religious communities. All tightenings apply until August 19 – probably the day before, based on the infection situation, they will decide how to proceed, says Schwenke.
On Friday Offenbach reported two new infections with the corona virus – the number of people currently infected was 64, as it was a few days ago. The city put the 7-day incidence at 28.7 cases per 100,000 people – on Tuesday the value was 39.4. The numbers are no longer increasing by leaps and bounds, but are still as high as they have been since the beginning of the pandemic.
The transport companies and the regulatory authorities do not agree who should control the Corona mask regulation in Hesse.