Under the new policy, DSB has stated that it is the responsibility of individual passengers to take sufficient precautions when travelling to restrict the transmission of the virus. The operator has asked that passengers show consideration for others when using the services, and recommends that face masks are worn on crowded trains, in line with current government guidelines.
Previously, DSB required all passengers travelling on all regional, InterCity and InterCityLyn express services to book a reserved seat when purchasing tickets, sitting apart from each other. The restriction was instated in March as a measure to reduce crowding on trains to restrict viral transmission following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The abolition of seating regulations on the service will be especially significant on DSB S-train commuter services. Previously, passengers had to space out throughout the train in accordance with DSB’s seating plans, or sit side-by-side facing in the same direction when travelling in groups. Customers can continue to track the number of passengers on the service in advance of travel, via DSB’s pladspaarejsen.dk website.
The news follows changes to guidelines by the Danish Health Authority on July 31, which now recommends the use of face masks on crowded public transport.
“Denmark is now entering a new phase after the nationwide lockdown,” says Mr Jan Sigurdur Christensen, DSB’s commercial director. “This has required a lot from customers, and we thank them for the understanding they have shown over the past few months.”
DSB has received some criticism for the move due to the number of confirmed active Covid-19 cases now rising again. 121 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 were registered in Denmark on August 6, according to figures from the State Serum Institute (SSI). Some, such as Mr Per Larsen, a health spokesperson for the Danish Conservative Party, say that DSB have misunderstood the purpose of the government’s face mask recommendation.
“The recommendation on face masks was introduced because during rush hour it can be difficult to keep your distance,” Larsen says. “DSB is now removing the requirement that protects against overcrowded trains - and which ensures that passengers can keep their distance.”
However, DSB has defended the changes, highlighting that seat reservations are not currently required on metro or bus services.