Friday, July 22
On Friday there were 99 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 21.8 cases per 100,000 people
Thousands to gather for CSD return
20,000 people are to take to the streets this Saturday for the return of the annual Christopher Street Day (CSD) gay pride march. From midday people from Berlin’s LGBTQ+ community and their allies will gather on Leipziger Straße for the traditional march through the Brandenburg Gate and past the Siegessäule. Masks will be mandatory for the protest-meets-party, which will end up in the gay village in Schöneberg. The impact of the pandemic means participant numbers will be greatly reduced: in 2019 the march attracted a record one million people. Last year’s CSD march was replaced with an online programme due to the ban on gatherings.
Karneval der Kulturen cancelled
The Karneval der Kulturen street festival has been cancelled just three weeks before it was due to take place. Announcing the decision on Thursday, organisers said the rise of the Delta coronavirus variant meant that the event could not be held under the safety policy that had been agreed. The move comes despite the larger CSD pride parade gaining permission to take place. It is the second year in which the Kreuzberg carnival has been cancelled; in normal years over 5000 performers and many more onlookers gather for a display of different cultures from around the world.
Thursday, July 22
On Thursday there were 161 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 22.6 cases per 100,000 people
Vaccine centres to offer walk-ins
Berliners will be able to get a Covid-19 vaccine without an appointment at the city’s vaccination centres for the next four weeks. Starting on Friday, residents can get a jab from three of the five remaining centres – Flughafen Tegel, Erika Heß Eisstadion and Messe Berlin – on a walk-in basis. The offer is available between the hours of 2pm and 5pm; outside these times an appointment is required. Those wishing to be vaccinated should bring an ID, proof of address and, if possible, their vaccine passport. The decision to open up jabs comes as the city prepares to close its vaccination centres, with the Velodrom and Arena facilities due to shut by the end of August. The centre at former Tempelhof airport closed already on Tuesday.
Covid incidence doubles in a week
Berlin’s Covid-19 incidence rate has doubled within seven days as the Delta variant continues to drive transmission in the city. According to the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute, Thursday’s rolling incidence rate was 22.6 per 100,000 residence – up from 11.6 just a week ago. The trend has led to renewed warnings that a new wave of Covid is coming: on Thursday the Senat raised the incidence rate traffic light to amber followed the shifting last Thursday of the weekly trend traffic light to red. Within Berlin, the highest incidences are in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg with 46.1 cases per 100,000 and Mitte with 37.3.
Tuesday, July 20
On Tuesday there were 193 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 18.0 cases per 100,000 people
Humboldt Forum opens its doors
After seven years in the making, the Humboldt Forum is finally welcoming its first visitors. On Tuesday Berlin mayor Michael Müller attended the grand opening of the €680 million arts centre, which occupies the fully-restored Berliner Schloss, a former Prussian palace in Mitte. Reconstruction of the baroque façade was hampered by two years of delays as well as controversy over the demolishing of the GDR-era Palast der Republik to make space for construction. Visitors to the Forum can currently see six exhibitions, including Berlin Global which examines the capital’s past and present links to the rest of the world. During the first 100 days, visits to the exhibitions are free of charge, but visitors must book a time slot
Monday, July 19
On Monday there were 132 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 15.8 cases per 100,000 people
Clubcommission criticises open-air ban
Clubcommission Berlin is to launch a legal appeal against the local authority in Mitte after it cancelled an open-air dance event at Plötzensee. The Tropicalia party from club collective Pornceptual had been due to take place at the lake on Sunday, but the Bezirksamt
in Mitte withdrew permission because of concerns that the area was turning into an “event location”. The Clubcommission and event host Strandbad Plötzensee accused the authority of reneging on an agreement. “Despite constructive dialogue between the operators of the lido and district mayor Von Dassel, the latter’s public order office has now – to the great astonishment of the Clubcommission – taken the opposite course,” a spokesman told Fritz radio on Sunday.
Huge demand for Ikea vaccines
The drive-through vaccine centre at Ikea in Lichtenberg was overwhelmed by demand after opening on Saturday, causing doses to run out after just two hours. Queues had already formed before the centre opened at 11am, leading organisers to turn away latecomers. 1000 people can be vaccinated every day at the facility, which is offering appointment-free jabs for the next six weeks. The centre is open daily from 11am to 9pm.
Friday, July 16
On Friday there were 132 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 13.9 cases per 100,000 people
Cash payment on buses abolished
Passengers on Berlin’s buses are no longer able to buy a ticket with cash as the BVG shifts to a card-only payment system. Since Monday passengers have been able to board buses using the front entrance for the first time in over a year, but those without a ticket will now have to have a credit card handy following the change in policy. On-board tickets can be bought using a credit or debit card or with Apple and Google pay, though the BVG says passengers can still pay with cash at its sales points in shops and stations. The operator is hoping the shift will help it cut costs but has faced criticism that the cashless system will make it more difficult for older people to use buses.
BVG offers vaccines at HQ
The BVG is opening up its employee vaccination drive to all Berliners this weekend, meaning anyone can attend the transport company’s headquarters to receive a Covid-19 jab. Appointments for the shots can be booked online, with slots available from this Saturday until the end of July. Medical staff at the BVG offices on Holzmarktstraße in Mitte will be administering doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine, the company said this week. Appointments for both first and second doses can be booked online using the Doctolib
Thursday, July 15
On Thursday there were 137 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 11.6 cases per 100,000 people
Covid shots offered on Hermannplatz
On Friday Berliners will be able to get a Covid-19 jab on Hermannplatz as the district opens a walk-in vaccine centre. Those interested can come to the centre between 10am and 5pm for the shot, with no appointment required. The local authority in Neukölln says all Berlin residents are welcome to come for the shots, which are being offered on a first-come, first-served basis. Initially the centre will open on July 15 for one day, though the district says it hopes to offer the vaccinations every Friday. The initiative comes as Berlin’s Senat announces plans for an all-night vaccine drive in order to increase uptake amongst young people. The Berlin Club Commission said on Thursday that it was working with the Senat’s health administration on an event at the Arena vaccine centre in Treptow where jabs would be offered in a party atmosphere with sets from well-known DJs.
Neukölln bookshop facing closure
English-language bookshop Curious Fox is facing closure after the owners’ rental contract was abruptly ended. In an announcement on Thursday, the founders of the Neukölln store said they had been given six weeks by their landlord to find a new location. Popular with Berlin’s expat community, Curious Fox has sold books from its Flughafenstraße shop for eight years.
Tuesday, July 13
On Tuesday there were 95 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 7.9 cases per 100,000 people
Ikea hosts vaccine drive
Berliners will be able to get their Covid-19 vaccine at Ikea in Lichtenberg from Saturday as the city introduces new ways to get the jab. The district authority said on Tuesday that residents of all Berlin Bezirke
would be able to attend the drive-through vaccination centre between the hours of 11 am and 9 pm to receive a vaccine. The centre will be open daily for a period of six weeks and is located in the furniture store’s car park. No appointment is necessary, with both drivers and pedestrians welcome to attend. Doses of the Johnson & Johnson and Moderna vaccines will be administered, though the district said a choice between the two was not guaranteed. Meanwhile in Neukölln a mobile vaccination station will be set up on Hermannplatz offering shots without appointments. The district has yet to confirm opening times.
Monday, July 12
On Monday there were 267 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 7.4 cases per 100,000 people
Covid traffic lights turn amber
Two of Berlin’s Covid-19 traffic lights turned amber over the weekend as the city’s case rate continues to rise. On Sunday a second coronavirus warning light jumped from green to amber as the R- or reproduction-rate – currently at 1.23 – remained above 1 for four days in a row. Another traffic light indicating the weekly trend in the incidence rate turned amber on Saturday after Berlin’s case rate grew 28 percent within seven days. On Monday, 267 new cases of the virus were reported – the highest daily rate since mid-June. The uptick comes as the highly contagious Delta virus variant continues to dominate infections in Berlin.
Poisonous snakes discovered in Potsdam flat
Emergency service workers discovered more than a dozen poisonous snakes in a Potsdam flat at the weekend after one of the creatures reportedly escaped. Concerned neighbours called emergency services on Saturday after the snakes’ owner said that one of his animals had disappeared. A reptile expert and firefighters attended the scene and were shocked to find 14 highly poisonous snakes living in the man’s cramped high-rise apartment. While it is legal in Brandenburg to keep poisonous animals, authorities confiscated the snakes due to the owner’s failure to provide safe, adequate conditions.
Friday, July 9
On Friday there were 59 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 6.9 cases per 100,000 people
Berlin’s incidence rate rises
The Covid-19 incidence rate in Berlin has begun to rise as the Delta variant of the virus becomes dominant. On Friday the city’s incidence rate grew for the fifth day in a row and now stands at 6.9 cases per 100,000, the highest since June 23. Although Berlin’s case rate remains far below the winter peaks, the trend suggests that a tipping point has been reached and that infections can be expected to increase as has been seen in the UK and the Netherlands. Latest figures for Germany show that Delta was already responsible for 59 percent of new infections in the last week of June. On Friday, 59 new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Berlin, the highest number since June 23.
Tesla plant under scrutiny
Authorities carried out a complete inspection of Tesla’s Brandenburg site on Friday after the carmaker was found to have carried out works without permission. The company’s planned “Gigafactory” in Grünheide is under scrutiny following the discovery on Wednesday of three chemical tanks which had been constructed without a permit. Inspectors from Brandenburg’s Landesamt für Umwelt (LfU) said checks were needed to ensure that no other illicit work had taken place. “Supervisory authorities want to ensure that after the construction of unauthorised tanks by Tesla no further unauthorised activities have been and will be carried out on the site,” the LfU said in a statement. The US firm hopes to start building electric cars at the site by the end of 2021 but could face delays – as well as a fine – for the lapse.
Protest after topless woman ejected from playground
Half-naked protestors are to take streets this weekend after a woman was ejected from a children’s play area for being topless. Campaigners from Hedonistic International
will cycle around Kreuzberg naked on Saturday in response to the removal of topless sunbather Gabrielle Lebreton from the Plansche water playground last Sunday. Police were called after Lebreton refused to cover up her breasts. While the local authority maintains that Lebreton broke the law, the French-born Berliner has gained support for her claim that she was the victim of discrimination. The protest is set to begin at midday on Saturday at Mariannenplatz.
Thursday, July 8
On Thursday there were 52 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 6.2 cases per 100,000 people
Berlin to close four of six vaccination centres early
Four of Berlin’s six Covid-19 vaccination centres are to close early following a surprise decision on Thursday. The Tempelhof centre will close on July 20 followed by facilities at the Erika Heß Eisstadion and Arena Berlin in August. This will leave just two centres in operation, at Messe Berlin and the former Tegel airport. The move comes following reassurances by health senator Dilek Kalayci in June that the facilities would remain open for the foreseeable future. Doctors groups have criticised Berlin’s vaccine centres as costly to operate, and say vaccinating in GP surgeries is much cheaper. People with vaccinations booked at the affected centres will receive alternative appointments.
Exiled journalist attacked in Neukölln
Police are investigating after an exiled Turkish journalist living in Neukölln was injured in what appears to have been a politically-motivated attack. Erk Acarer was kicked and punched by two men near his home in Rudow on Wednesday evening, leaving him with head injuries requiring medical treatment. Acarer, who is a critic of Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan and has faced numerous threats in the past, says the attackers were known to him.
Shelter reports surge in unwanted pets
The pandemic trend for pets has led to a surge in abandoned animals as Berlin emerges from lockdown. Animal shelter Tierheim Berlin says it has experienced a sudden increase in admissions of unwanted pets, with smaller animals like rabbits arriving in particularly large numbers. “Apparently many have lost interest in pets again after the easing of restrictions,” spokeswoman Annette Rost told RBB.
Tuesday, July 6
On Tuesday there were 53 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 5.3 cases per 100,000 people
Senat debates larger events and gatherings
The Senat has proposed a further easing of Berlin’s Covid-19 restrictions with more lenient rules on events and social gatherings. Here are the changes under discussion on Tuesday:
UK and Portugal travel relaxed
- Private gatherings: the limit on indoor gatherings is to be increased from 10 people from five different households to 20 people from 10 households. The nominal 100-person limit on outdoor gatherings will remain in place
- Public events: outdoor events such as performances and sports matches are to be permitted for up to 5000 people (up from 2000) so long as the seven-day incidence rate remains below 35. Limits on indoor events may be increased from 500 to 1000 people, though the Senat has yet to agree on this point
- Mask-wearing: FFP2 masks are set to remain compulsory on public transport. According to reports, the FFP2 requirement in restaurants and shops is to be relaxed in favour of surgical masks
- Clubs: the Senat is debating whether to include nightclubs in the 5000-person limit on outdoor events. Currently the open-air capacity of venues is strictly limited to 250 people. Also under discussion is allowing clubs to open their indoor spaces
Germany has relaxed entry restrictions on people arriving from the UK and Portugal just days after Berlin pledged stricter checks on inbound passengers. Starting from Wednesday, the two countries – plus Russia, India and Nepal – will be taken off the list of Virusvariantengebiete
(virus variant areas), thus ending the ban on travel into Germany for non-residents. The quarantine period for the countries will also be reduced from two weeks to 10 days, with fully vaccinated travellers no longer required to isolate at all. The news means that tougher checks pledged by Berlin last week on travellers from virus variant areas will no longer apply to Britain and Portugal. The decision was announced by the Robert Koch Institute on Monday evening and comes after a meeting last week between Chancellor Angela Merkel and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in which an easing of travel rules was discussed. The UK, whose incidence rate of 229 is 45 times higher than Germany’s, has yet to reciprocate by ending its own quarantine rules for passengers arriving from Germany.
Monday, July 5
On Monday there were 3 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 4.9 cases per 100,000 people
Return travellers face tougher checks
Berlin’s health authorities are introducing tougher checks on travellers from the UK and Portugal in an eleventh-hour attempt to prevent an outbreak of the Delta variant. Speaking on Friday health senator Dilek Kalayci said the city’s Gesundheitsämter
would use data from passengers arriving from so-called Virusvariantengebiete
(virus variant areas) to monitor compliance with the mandatory 14-day quarantine requirement. While it is already standard practice for passenger data to be shared with public health offices, officials have relied on the public’s sense of duty rather than carry out checks. Arrivals from variant areas will now receive an email or phone call from their Gesundheitsamt
explaining the quarantine rule, though limited resources on the ground mean policing is unlikely to go much further than that. “We will do what can be done,” Kalayci said on Friday.
BVG introduces new announcer
Passengers on Berlin’s public transport network have a new voice to guide them as the BVG completes its roll-out of new audio announcements. Berlin-born trans woman Philippa Jarke has been announcing stops on the city’s bus routes for several months; as of Monday she can also be heard on all U-Bahn and tram services. According to the transport operator, Philippa is part of a “new sound branding” and “uniform acoustic brand identity” that also includes new gongs and tones. The BVG says Philippa was selected out of a thousand candidates on account of her unique voice and strong personality.
Berliners flock to cinemas
Berliners headed to the movies in their droves over the weekend after the city’s cinemas reopened their doors after a several-month break. Critically acclaimed films like Oscar-winning Nomadland as well as changeable weather resulted in a strong opening weekend for theatres, with the Yorck cinema group reporting admissions of 10,000 people at its 14 locations. Last Thursday cinemas in Germany began reopening under strict Covid-19 restrictions, including mandatory testing and social distancing.
Friday, July 2
On Friday there were 16 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 5.1 cases per 100,000 people
Lockdown rules to ease from Saturday
Rules on outdoor events and private gatherings in Berlin will be relaxed from this Saturday. Here are the changes due to take effect:
Thursday, July 1
On Thursday there were 46 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 5.5 cases per 100,000 people
Housing referendum set for September
- Private gatherings: the limit on the number of people allowed to attend private outdoor meetings has been increased to the nominal figure of 100. For indoor gatherings, the existing limit of ten people from five households remains in place
- Public events: outdoor events such as performances and sports matches will be permitted for up to 2000 people (up from 1000), with proof of a negative test, vaccination or previous infection required for events with more than 500 participants. Indoors, permitted attendee numbers will increase from 250 to 500
- Universities: higher education institutions are permitted to open as normal, though many universities have chosen to continue with remote learning
- Retailers and public buildings: shops, museums and libraries no longer have to take down personal information from visitors
- Gyms and leisure venues: visitors to gyms, yoga and dance studios, evening classes and music schools will only be required to wear a surgical mask. Previously an FFP2 covering was mandatory
A referendum to bring Berlin’s housing stock back into public hands is to take place after a petition by campaigners gathered enough signatures to force a vote. Deutsche Wohnen & Co. enteignen (“Expropriate Deutsche Wohnen & Co.”) gathered almost 360,000 supporters for their proposal to forcibly acquire properties owned by large landlords. While a third of the signatures were found invalid, the campaign easily met the seven percent threshold needed to secure a vote. If the city’s voters give the initiative their support in a September poll, private landlords in possession of more than 3000 flats (such as the soon-to-merge Deutsche Wohnen and Vonovia) could have them expropriated by the state. But the referendum, which is to be held in parallel with state and national elections on September 26, would not guarantee a change in the law unless it also gains support from the newly-elected House of Representatives.
Wednesday, June 30
On Wednesday there were 26 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 5.7 cases per 100,000 people
Cinemas set to reopen
Just in time for the wet weather: many of Berlin’s cinemas are to reopen their doors for the first time in months on Thursday. Theatres set to open include the Yorck group with its 14 locations, the CineStar chain and Kino Central in Mitte. Other screens such as Mitte’s Babylon are waiting for the weekend to welcome visitors, while Lichtblick in Prenzlauer Berg will run a special programme to celebrate the end of the enforced break. Some cinemas like Wolf Kino in Neukölln are holding off opening, blaming low demand in the summer months. Oscar-winner Nomadland
is set to be the most widely-screened title in Berlin theatres, which will impose strict limits on audience numbers. As expected, a negative Covid test or proof of vaccination or previous infection is required to attend, with visitors asked to wear masks unless in their seats.
Berlin labour market shows recovery
Unemployment in Berlin has dropped to its lowest level since April 2020 in a sign that the capital’s labour market is recovering from the pandemic. According to the latest figures from the Federal Employment Agency, 199,345 people in Berlin were registered as unemployed in June – a decrease of 5033 on the previous month. It is the first time the jobless rate has been below the 200,000 mark in over a year, although conditions have yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels: Berlin’s current unemployment rate of 9.8 percent is still significantly higher than it was at the end of 2019, where joblessness stood at 7.7 percent.
Mandatory remote working to end
CEOs are rejoicing, employees perhaps less so: from July 1 companies are no longer required to offer remote working to their staff. For many Berliners in office-based jobs, working from home has been the norm since Germany began belatedly mandating the practice in April. But the change in the law this Thursday means employers will be allowed to request that staff attend their place of work as normal. Evidence suggests that few employees will be willing to return to business as usual: according to a study commissioned by the Federal Employment Agency, three-quarters of home workers are happy to stay where they are.
Tuesday, June 29
On Tuesday there were 22 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 5.9 cases per 100,000 people
Police call for parks to be fenced off
Berlin’s police union has called for the city’s parks to be fenced off in a bid to clamp down on illegal partying. Speaking on Monday, GdP spokesman Benjamin Jendro called on local authorities to introduce fences, security and a curfew to limit access to Berlin’s green spaces at night. But the proposals have been dismissed by district politicians, including the leaders of the Neukölln and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg authorities. “Anyone who thinks a fence will help will be hit with reality very quickly because these parties will just take place outside the parks,” Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg mayor Monika Herrmann (Green) told RBB news. The debate comes following another weekend of large-scale partying in parks such as Neukölln’s Hasenheide, which police cleared on Saturday night after thousands of people gathered for a rave.
Steglitz residents evacuated after bomb find
3000 people in Steglitz were evacuated from their homes on Monday after a World War II bomb was discovered during construction work. The uncovering of the 250kg German-made explosive led police to set up a 300-metre exclusion zone around the Oehlertring cul-de-sac, with helicopters deployed to assist the evacuation effort. Experts were able to diffuse the device by 9pm, allowing residents to return home.
Monday, June 28
On Monday there were 0 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 6.5 cases per 100,000 people
Zero cases in Berlin as delta variant spreads
No new cases of Covid-19 were reported in Berlin on Sunday as the city experiences its lowest infection rates since last summer. According to the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute, the seven-day incidence rate stands at 6.5 cases per 100,000 people – a figure not seen August 2020. Some of the decrease can be accounted for by delays in reporting cases and reduced testing capacity at the weekend, meaning reported infections are likely to rise again on Monday. The figures come amid warnings from German state leaders of the threat posed by the fast-spreading delta variant. Figures published last week showed the share of delta variant cases in Germany doubled within seven days, raising the prospect of a new wave of infections.
Pride season kicks off with march
Thousands of people from Berlin’s LGBTQ+ community took to the streets on Saturday for the “CSD-Sterndemo” marking the beginning of the pride season. With music playing and pride flags hoisted, 5000 people marched from start points in Kreuzberg, Neukölln and Prenzlauer Berg towards a central gathering point on Alexanderplatz. The demonstration is intended as an alternative to the larger, typically more commercialised CSD (Christopher Street Day) parade due to take place on July 24.
Delivery startup faces fine
Grocery delivery startup Gorillas is facing a fine for failing to apply for permission to operate its warehouse in Prenzlauer Berg. The firm runs a ‘dark’ supermarket – a room where delivery employees pick food and drink to deliver to customers – on Prenzlauer Allee, but according to a report in the Tagesspiegel
on Monday it has failed to apply for the necessary permit. After complaints from local residents that delivery vans were constantly blocking the pavement outside, the Ordnungsamt
gave the Berlin-based startup a deadline of June 18 to apply for proper permission. According to the report Gorillas has ignored the deadline and will now be fined for obstructing public space.
Police break up outdoor raves
Young people took to Berlin’s parks in large numbers again at the weekend, leading police to clear a number of impromptu raves. The largest gatherings took place on Saturday night in Neukölln’s Hasenheide park, which has long been a centre for unofficial outdoor parties. Police used a helicopter to break up three large raves in the park, which had attracted thousands following the pride march earlier in the day. The James Simon Park opposite Museum Island in Mitte was also cleared after large numbers assembled on the grass. Despite newly-eased Covid-19 rules, large outdoor gatherings are only permitted if official safety measures are in place.
Friday, June 25
On Friday there were 55 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 7.1 cases per 100,000 people
Walk-in vaccine centre opens to all Berliners
This weekend Berliners can get a Covid-19 vaccine without registering at a pop-up centre in Reinickendorf. As part of the city’s neighbourhood jab drive
, all adults registered in Berlin can attend the Mark-Twain-Grundschule at Auguste-Viktoria-Allee 95 on Saturday and Sunday between 9.30 am and 4.30 pm to receive the shot. To take up the offer all you need to do is show your ID and your registration (Anmeldung). Full details are available on the Senat website
Court forces Airbnb to report illegal rentals
Airbnb will be forced to hand over the details of users who are suspected of illegally renting out flats following a court ruling. Since 2018, every holiday apartment listing must by law include a registration number proving that the owner has registered their property for tourists. Berlin’s administrative court ruled on Wednesday that if the number is incorrect or absent, local authorities will have the power to force rental platforms like Airbnb to provide the name and address of the user. The decision was welcomed by politicians in all the coalition parties. “Districts can now take powerful action against illegal holiday flats and thus better fulfil their task of protecting living space from misuse,” Green housing spokesperson Katrin Schmidberger said of the ruling.
Philharmoniker in outdoor debut
The Berliner Philharmoniker is to return to the stage this Saturday for the first large-scale outdoor concert in the city since the beginning of the lockdown. As part of a pilot project, 6000 audience members are to attend the socially-distanced show at the Waldbühne in Olympiapark, marking the start of the traditional summer season of classical concerts. Attendees will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative Covid-19 test from an approved provider in order to get in. Tickets
are still available for the concert, which will feature pieces by Leonard Bernstein and George Gershwin conducted by Wayne Marshall.
Night train to Stockholm set for launch
A daily night train linking Berlin and Stockholm is to launch on Monday, marking the first direct service between the two cities since the 1990s. Operated by Swedish company Snälltåget, the train leaves Gesundbrunnen station at 18h54 and arrives in Stockholm at 14h20 the next day. The service to Berlin leaves the Swedish capital at 16h20 and arrives at Hauptbahnhof at 8h52 the following morning. The train also makes stops in the Swedish city of Malmö, in Denmark (though not Copenhagen) and Hamburg. Passengers can book couchette beds, reclining seats as well as regular seats for the journey.
Thursday, June 24
On Thursday there were 37 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 6.5 cases per 100,000 people
Senat confirms free kids’ swimming
Berlin’s under-13s will be able to visit open-air swimming pools free of charge during the school holidays, the Senat has confirmed. As the city’s school children break up for the summer, €760,000 has been made available to the Berliner Bäder-Betriebe which will allow it to offer free tickets to any youngsters that want to swim. But whether kids will be able to secure slots at the city’s baths is an open question: demand at many venues is outstripping supply. The pools operator promised this week to increase capacity so more youngsters will be able to hit the water.
Green light for gasometer development
Schöneberg’s gasometer is to be rebuilt as an office tower after the district’s local assembly approved development plans for the historic structure. Local residents and politicians had been fiercely opposed to the scheme – which will see the 110-year-old gas holder filled in with offices – due to the structure’s architectural significance. On Wednesday, members of the “Gasometer retten” initiative protested outside Rathaus Schöneberg as the ruling was being announced. Located on the Euref science campus, the gasometer once supplied much of the area with gas and since closing has become a popular tourist attraction. Work has already begun on filling in the centre of the iron tower, which is set to house Deutsche Bahn’s “digital rail” division.
Signalling problems ruin U-Bahn record attempt
Held up at the lights: an attempt to travel to all stations on Berlin’s U-Bahn network in record time failed on Wednesday after a red signal on the U8 left the challengers waiting. Lorenz Wünsch and Till Rasche from Frankfurt set out at 5.40am for their attempt at the Berlin version of the Tube Challenge
, where keen London Underground passengers compete to travel to all stops on the network. Progress for the pair was good until 11am, when their train got held up at Gesundbrunnen for three minutes. The delay meant the duo would never be able catch up with record-holder Adham Fisher, who travelled to all of Berlin’s 175 metro stations in just six hours and 53 minutes in 2014.
Tuesday, June 22
On Tuesday there were 41 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 7.1 cases per 100,000 people
Restrictions on gatherings to be scrapped
The Senat is set to scrap all limits on private outdoor gatherings in another easing of the lockdown rules due to be agreed on Tuesday. According to a draft proposal, the current 10 person, five household limit will in future only apply to indoor gatherings. The change will mean that individuals can gather outside with as many people as they like, and is likely to anger the cultural sector for whom strict limits on open-air events still apply. Also in the draft law is a proposal to loosen mask-wearing rules for shops, gyms and events so that people only need to wear a medical mask instead of a FFP2 covering. The final measures are set to be agreed at a meeting of senators on Tuesday afternoon.
Senat debates free summer swimming
Berlin’s school children are to be able to swim for free at the city’s outdoor swimming pools and lidos under plans being considered by the Senat on Tuesday. In a drive to get youngsters in the water after a Covid-induced break, children and young people will be given free entry to all facilities operated by the Berliner Bäder-Betriebe. The city’s schools begin their six-week summer holiday this Thursday. The proposal is set to be given the green light by the city government this week.
Monday, June 21
On Monday 1 new Covid-19 infection was reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 7.5 cases per 100,000 people
Firefighters tackle wildfires as Berlin bakes
Firefighters in Brandenburg were battling to control wildfires over the weekend as the region experienced some of the hottest June weather in living memory. By Friday afternoon temperatures had hit 36 degrees celsius in Mitte, with continued nighttime heat providing apartment dwellers little reprieve. North of Berlin, firefighting crews spent the whole weekend fighting a forest fire in Bötzow; as of Monday morning the blaze continued to burn. The hot weather brought Berliners to pools, lakes and rivers in droves, while water use soared. According to the Berliner Wasserbetriebe, the city consumed 911,000 cubic metres of drinking water on Thursday – the highest daily usage in 20 years.
Injuries in Wedding shooting
Three people were seriously injured in a shooting in Wedding on Sunday night. Scores of heavily-armed police officers attended a shisha bar on the corner of Müllerstraße and Transvaalstraße at around 11pm, cordoning off a large area. The injured men were taken to hospital; according to DPA reports one of the victims had been shot seven or eight times. Police have yet to identify a suspect.
Flotilla demonstration for club freedoms
Demonstrators from Berlin’s nightlife scene took to the water on Sunday to protest against strict Covid-19 limits placed on clubs. In a part-demonstration part-party, dozens of inflatable boats and larger vessels gathered for a “Rave-o-lution” on the Landwehrkanal and drifted through Kreuzberg and Neukölln. The city’s nightlife industry has been frustrated by the 250-person limit the Senat imposed on outdoor parties in its easing of the lockdown rules this month. Club operators say the limit, as well as strict testing requirements, mean youngsters are being driven to unofficial parties in parks and warehouses where no safety rules are enforced. Police estimate around 150 people took part in the flotilla and said Covid rules were largely followed. A similar, larger gathering in May last year caused nationwide uproar after scores of people were seen celebrating on the canal in front of the Klinikum Am Urban hospital in Neukölln.
Friday, June 18
On Thursday there were 63 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 8.4 cases per 100,000 people
Half of Berliners now vaccinated
Fifty percent of Berlin’s population has now been vaccinated against Covid-19, according to the latest figures. Announcing the news on Thursday, health senator Dilek Kalayci talked of a “gratifying milestone”, with 1.8 million people in the capital having received at least one dose of the vaccine. Just under 1 million city residents are now fully vaccinated – equating to 27 percent of the population. But Berlin still has some way to go: the Robert Koch Institute says that 80 percent of the population needs to be immune to the virus (either through vaccination or having been infected) for normal life to resume.
Outdoor cinemas call for easing of rules
Mandatory Covid-19 testing for outdoor cinema visits should be scrapped, Berlin’s largest open-air theatre operator has said. In an open letter published on Wednesday, Piffl Medien, which operates outdoor screens in Friedrichshain, Kreuzberg and Wedding, said the rule was inconsistent with the Senat’s decision to end testing requirements for outdoor dining and drinking. Unlike restaurant guests, visitors to open-air films still have to provide evidence of a negative Covid test or vaccination upon entry. “What is the basis for categorising the risk of infection as higher than in beer gardens or at public [sport] viewings in front of bars?” the operator says. The letter calls on the city to revise the rules by Monday, when cinemas return to normal operations following the Berlinale.
New lockdown rules come into force
Berliners were enjoying fresh freedoms on Friday as newly-eased lockdown rules came into force. Big changes from June 18 include the ending of mandatory mask-wearing on busy streets and the reopening of clubs. Here’s an overview of the new measures:
Thursday, June 17
On Thursday there were 63 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 10.7 cases per 100,000 people
Police enter Rigaer 94 squat
- Masks: the requirement to wear a face mask on busy streets has been scrapped. The exception is when queuing and in instances where social distancing is not possible. Demonstrators must also cover up
- Clubs: nightclub venues are allowed to host outdoor dance events for up to 250 people. Guests must wear a mask and show proof of a negative Covid-19 test, vaccination or previous infection upon entry
- Alcohol: the ban on late-night sales of alcoholic drinks has been lifted. Pubs, restaurants and Spätis are now allowed to sell drinks throughout the night (previously there was a curfew at midnight)
- Outdoor events: the attendance limit for Covid-safe open-air events (but not club nights) has been increased to 1000 people (previously it was 500)
- Indoor events: the attendance limit for seated indoor events has been increased to 250 people (previously it was 100)
- Private gatherings: outdoor limits remain the same: a maximum of 10 people from five different households can meet. Indoors the rules have been eased, with 10 people from three households now allowed to gather
- Hairdressers: the requirement to show a negative Covid test has been scrapped
- Pools and saunas: indoor swimming pools, saunas and spas may now reopen. Guests are required to show a negative Covid-19 test or equivalent evidence
Police forcibly entered the Rigaer 94 squat in Friedrichshain on Thursday following a month-long legal standoff over an inspection of the house’s interior. As occupants attempted to barricade themselves in, officers used chainsaws and angle grinders to force their way into the building before gaining access at around 12.30pm. Police subsequently announced that the planned fire safety inspection had been carried out by representatives of the block’s landlord. Rigaer 94 residents and their supporters had been promising fierce resistance to the inspection, leading police to mount a huge presence with over 1000 officers and other emergency service workers deployed to the area. On Thursday morning occupants made a last-minute offer to allow inspectors access to the building without a police presence, but this was rejected by the landlord. Instead the operation went ahead as planned with residents resisting police with fire extinguishers and paint. According to the police, a total of 21 officers were injured during the operation.
Clubs to reopen dance floors
Berlin’s clubs are preparing to reopen their dance floors this weekend after the Senat gave outdoor parties the green light on Tuesday. From Friday, clubs with outdoor space will be allowed to host “Tanzlustbarkeiten” (“dance festivities”) for up to 250 guests with strict Covid rules in place, including mask wearing and mandatory testing. Venues including Club der Visionäre, Ritter Butzke, ://about blank and Sisyphos are set to open their open-air spaces, though ravers hoping for an all-nighter will be disappointed: most of the events are set to end at midnight at the latest.
Wednesday, June 16
On Tuesday there were 57 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 13.6 cases per 100,000 people
Heat wave heading for Berlin
Berlin’s weather is about to get a lot hotter, as heat wave hits the city on Thursday and Friday. Meteorologists from the German Meteorological Service in Potsdam expect temperatures to reach up to 37C before the weekend, brought about by hot air masses making their way to Berlin. Thunderstorms may cool things down, but they aren’t guaranteed. Meteorologists also expect an especially high presence of UV radiation and night-time temperatures to stay above 20C.
Tuesday, June 15
On Tuesday there were 57 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 13.6 cases per 100,000 people
Senat loosens mask, events rules
Berlin has decided to scrap the requirement to wear a face mask on busy streets as the Senat agrees to a further easing of lockdown rules. Contrary to what was reported on Monday, the city government’s new measures will see an end to mandatory masks on 35 of the capital’s busiest streets except in cases where social distancing is not possible, such as in queues. In a further change – and complication – to current rules, standard surgical masks will now be sufficient for outdoor use while FFP2 coverings will remain mandatory on public transport. Due to come into force on Friday, the new mask rules are part of a schedule of more relaxed measures set to be agreed by the end of Tuesday.
The Senat also agreed to permit outdoor events with dancing, such as open-airs, with up to 250 guests. Attendees, however, must present a negative Covid-19 test and wear masks whenever they leave their seat. The alcohol and shopping ban from midnight to 5am will also be lifted.
Rigaer 94 squat loses appeal
Building inspectors and police have received the go-ahead to enter the Rigaer 94 squat in Friedrichshain this Thursday after a legal appeal by occupants failed. According to RBB reports, on Tuesday Berlin’s Administrative Court rejected a bid by the squatters to prevent a team of fire safety inspectors assessing the building. Occupied since the early 1990s, Rigaer 94 has been the subject of a long-running dispute between residents and the building’s owners, who say the block has fallen into disrepair. Previous attempts by landlord representatives to enter the house saw them come under attack by the occupants; last Thursday residents reportedly threw stones at firefighters and police officers as they attended a fire that had been started on the street. For the building’s residents, the address is the final front in the battle against real estate companies and for-profit speculators.
Monday, June 14
On Monday there were 6 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 15.4 cases per 100,000 people
Senat set to relax Covid-19 rules
Berliners will soon enjoy additional freedoms as the city government plans a new easing of the Covid-19 rules. According to reports in the B.Z
newspapers, the Senat
will meet tomorrow to agree to the reopening of outdoor clubs and indoor swimming pools and spas. Also among the new measures is a removal of the requirement to wear a mask in cinemas and theatres and an increase in the permitted size of socially distanced events in closed rooms from 100 to 200 people. The requirement to wear a mask outdoors in certain streets and situations is set to remain, according to the reports. Full details of the new rules are due to be announced on Tuesday afternoon.
Friday, June 11
On Friday there were 90 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 16.6 cases per 100,000 people
Vaccine drive in Friedrichshain–Kreuzberg
All residents of Friedrichshain and Kreuzberg are being offered Covid-19 vaccines this weekend as Berlin’s targeted immunisation drive in inner-city districts continues. In a spontaneous Twitter announcement
on Friday, the local authority said anyone who could prove they live in one of the two districts would be able to receive a jab at the sports hall on Lobeckstraße near Moritzplatz without needing to register. The offer was initially available until 4.30pm on Friday, but the authorities say the shots will also be offered over the weekend subject to availability. A similar scheme is also taking place in parts of Treptow–Köpenick over the coming days. Residents are being advised to check the Friedrichshain–Kreuzberg
local authority websites for the latest information.
Covid-19 traffic lights go green
All of Berlin’s Covid-19 traffic lights have turned green for the first time in several months as the city’s case rate continues to fall. The seven-day incidence rate fell from 20.2 cases per 100,000 on Thursday to 16.6 on Friday – thus falling below the 20-case threshold and turning from amber to green. The other two Covid traffic lights, indicating the R-value and the city’s intensive care bed capacity, have been green since the end of May. The trend suggests that the reopening of businesses and growth in social gatherings has yet to push up infection rates, paving the way for a further relaxing of lockdown rules.
Digital vaccine passport launched
Berliners will be able to prove their vaccination status by simply showing their phone after the launch of Germany’s digital vaccine passport. From Friday, smartphone users will be able to download CovPass
, the official vaccine app developed by the Robert Koch Institute which offers a digital alternative to the traditional yellow immunisation booklet. To activate the system, users will be required to scan a QR code with the app, which will then display a proof of vaccination that can be used for intra-EU travel, restaurant visits, events and appointments. A letter with the QR code will be issued when a person gets their second dose of the vaccine or, for those who have already been fully vaccinated, retrospectively from selected GP practices and from June 14, certain pharmacies (a list of participating pharmacies
will be posted online).
Hotels reopen to tourists
Berlin and Brandenburg’s hotels opened their doors to tourists for the first time in months on Friday. Hoteliers seemed cautiously optimistic about summer business after getting the green light to open in advance of the original July date. “After big waves of cancellations, big waves of reservations are rolling in,” said president of Brandenburg’s hotel association Olaf Schöpe in comments reported by RBB. The news means both domestic and international tourists can visit Berlin and the surrounding area and stay in hotels for the first time since Christmas. Previously only business travellers had been permitted to book overnight stays.
Thursday, June 10
On Thursday there were 121 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 20.2 cases per 100,000 people
Gorillas delivery workers strike
Delivery workers at grocery platform Gorillas went on strike for the second day running on Thursday following what they say was the unfair dismissal of an employee. Informal trade union Gorillas Workers Collective
organised pickets in front of the firm’s warehouses in Mitte and Prenzlauer Berg, causing significant disruption to operations. The union is demanding the reinstating of a worker who it says was summarily fired and has accused the Berlin-based company of threatening riders with disciplinary action if they take part in the strike. One of several grocery delivery services now operating in the city, Gorillas has experienced rapid growth but has faced criticism over its employment practices.
Mitte squat faces eviction
The leftist Köpi 137 housing collective which has occupied the same site in Mitte since 1990 is to be forcibly cleared following a court ruling. In an announcement on Thursday the criminal court in Moabit ordered that the housing project, which consists of trailers occupying a patch of land at Köpenicker Straße 137, should be evicted without delay. The 30 women who live on the site have long faced the threat of eviction and have mounted regular protests against what they say is the illegal acquisition of the site by investors.
Wednesday, June 9
On Tuesday there were 117 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 22.6 cases per 100,000 people
Revier Südost to host test rave this Sunday
Revier Südost, the Niederschöneweide club launched by the crew formerly behind Griessmühle, will throw a trial rave this Sunday, June 13, to see how Berlin’s club scene can be restarted. Those interested in attending must enter a ticket lottery
by 3pm on Thursday, June 10 and will find out if they scored one of the 300 places by 6pm that evening. Ravers will be tested for Covid-19 on the door and must wear masks at all times. Guests will also wear a tracking device during the event and are asked to return to Revier Südost 10 days later to be retested. The party is headlined by local DJ Ellen Allien and runs from 4pm to 10pm.
Tuesday, June 8
On Tuesday there were 117 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 22.6 cases per 100,000 people
Senator signals reopening of clubs
Berlin’s clubs could reopen their dance floors in as little as 10 days, culture senator Klaus Lederer has indicated. Speaking to the Senat’s culture committee on Monday, the Left Party politician suggested venues would be allowed to welcome dancers from June 18 – though parties would only be allowed outdoors. “We as the culture administration don’t want 1,000 people at once, but we want to make outdoor events – dancing – possible outside,” Lederer said. The proposal means only clubs which have outdoor dance floors will be permitted to reopen, with strict rules on guest numbers and mask wearing similar to those seen last summer.
300 discrimination complaints against Berlin authorities
In the past year over 300 allegations of discrimination have been made against Berlin authorities, including police officers, according to official figures published on Tuesday. A total of 315 complaints have been made against public officials (including police officers and BVG and Ordnungsamt
employees), of which a third were for alleged racism. The complaints were made on the basis of the Antidiskriminierungsgesetz
(Anti-discrimination Act), which was introduced last year to make Berlin’s officials more accountable for their behaviour. But few of the charges have been accepted: the discrimination ombudsman has ruled in favour of the complainant in just 21 out of the 315 cases, typically due to lack of evidence. Under the law, anyone person who encounters discrimination on the basis of skin colour, nationality or sexuality may file an official complaint with the ombudsman.
Monday, June 7
On Monday there were 7 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 26.5 cases per 100,000 people
Ku’damm chase leaves six injured
Six people were injured, one seriously, in a dramatic police chase on Kurfürstendamm on Saturday night. Officers noticed a BMW belonging to car rental platform Share Now doing excessive speeds at around 11pm and attempted to stop the 23-year-old driver. The vehicle failed to halt, resulting in a high-speed chase which ended in a serious accident when the rental car lost control and collided with the police vehicle. Two police officers were injured as well as the driver, who fled on foot before being apprehended. Three more people were injured when another police car rushing to the scene collided with a Mercedes vehicle near Uhlandstraße. Paramedics on the scene reported that one unidentified person had life-threatening injuries. The BMW driver now faces multiple charges including illegal street racing, dangerous driving, driving under the influence and failure to stop after an accident.
Berlin plans Covid-safe marathon
The 2021 Berlin Marathon is set to go ahead this September with up to 35,000 runners participating, organisers said on Monday. The company SCC-Events, which arranges the marathon, says the event will take place as a pilot project with mandatory PCR-testing for all participants who have not been vaccinated. But spacing rules mean attendance will be around half that of previous years: in 2019 more than 62,000 people ran the 42km stretch. The marathon is set to be held on September 26, which is the same day as city and federal elections in Germany although organisers denied the event would prevent people being able to cast their vote.
Autobahns shut by bike protest
Thousands of cyclists took to Berlin’s streets to demand greener transport infrastructure on Sunday, leading to multiple road closures. A stretch of the A100 Autobahn in Schöneberg and the Avus A115 speedway in Grunewald were shut in both directions as an estimated 10,000 riders filled the streets on 16 separate routes spreading out from the Siegessäule in Mitte. Organised under the banner “Die Zukunft beginnt heute – Verkehrswende jetzt” (“The future begins today – transform transport now”), the two-wheeled protest ended up at the Brandenburg Gate, where demonstrators then marched on foot.
Friday, June 4
On Friday there were 182 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 28.7 cases per 100,000 people
Berliners enjoy new freedoms
Good news: from Friday Berliners can enjoy indoor dining at restaurants and a host of other freedoms as new Covid-19 measures come into effect. Here’s a summary of the latest rules:
Vaccine centres to open to all
- Restaurants, bars and cafes: Eating and drinking is now permitted indoors with a negative Covid-19 test no older than 24 hours or proof of full vaccination or previous infection. For outdoor eating and drinking, the test requirement no longer applies. In both cases there is a limit on numbers: no more than five people and two households can sit at one table
- Social gatherings: Six people from three households are permitted to meet indoors; outside this rises to 10 people from five households. People who are vaccinated or who have already had Covid-19 do not count towards the total
- Cinemas, theatres, opera houses and concert halls: Indoor venues may now reopen under strict safety rules including test requirements, assigned seating and mask wearing depending on the event setup. Audiences are limited to 100 or 500 people depending on the building size and ventilation. (Despite getting the green light, cultural venues are holding off organising indoor events – cinemas not expected to open until the beginning of July)
- Outdoor events and performances: Open-air plays, films, concerts and other performances are permitted for up to 500 people (previously it was 250). Covid tests, assigned seating and mask requirements apply depending on event size and setup
- Shopping: The same-day Covid test requirement no longer applies, though limits on shopper numbers remain. Flea markets are permitted to reopen
- Museums and galleries: The same-day test requirement no longer applies
- Gyms and sports facilities: Indoor sports venues can reopen with strict rules including visitor limits, registration requirements and a mandatory same-day test or proof of vaccination/infection. The change means gyms and dance and yoga studios can now open their doors. Limits on outdoor group sport have been abolished, as has the test requirement for going to outdoor swimming pools
- Schools: All pupils are to return to the classroom on June 9, though there is no legal requirement for children to attend
- Brandenburg: Similarly to Berlin, restaurants may now serve indoor diners who have a negative test. The test requirement no longer applies to outdoor dining and shop visits. From Jun 11, hotels, spas and saunas join holiday apartments and campsites in being allowed to open
Berlin’s vaccination centres will open up to everyone from Monday as Germany abolishes all restrictions on getting Covid-19 jabs. Previously, non-priority groups could only get the vaccine at a GP practice. The news means anyone regardless of age or health status can book an appointment
at one of the six centres, though no slots were available as of Friday, June 4. The Senat
is promising to release new batches of appointments, though demand is likely to continue to exceed supply. “As the federal government makes more deliveries during July, the Senat will release a total of 130,000 additional appointments for first-time vaccinations,” said Health Senator Dilek Kalayci on Friday.
Lake warning after dog dies in toxic water
Children and animals are to be kept away from Tegeler See following the death of a dog which swam in the lake. The dog is thought to have died of poisoning after coming into contact with toxic blue-green algae while swimming in the water on Tuesday. Berlin’s Lageso public health administration is now advising people not to let children or pets enter the water and to avoid algae accumulations while swimming. In 2017, several dogs died in the same lake after exposure to Anatoxin-a, a neurotoxin created by algae that tends to build up in fresh, cool water.
Thursday, June 3
On Thursday there were 192 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 31.4 cases per 100,000 people
Rocketing cocaine levels in Berlin’s water
The amount of cocaine residue in Berlin’s wastewater has shot up despite the pandemic, according to an analysis of the city’s sewers published on Thursday. In 2021, 600 milligrams of the drug per 1000 people per day was detected in the city’s effluent – that’s double the quantity found in 2017. The study, which was carried out by the Berliner Wasserbetriebe and TU Dresden on behalf of ARD programme Kontraste
, confirms police reports that consumption and sales of cocaine have shot up in the past year. Averaged out, the findings mean twenty doses of the stimulant per 1,000 inhabitants were consumed every day in Berlin this year. Commenting on the findings, Ute Keller from Berlin’s Alexian addiction clinic suggested the increase could be caused by people struggling to cope with the dual burden of home office and childcare
Inspectors close five Neukölln test stations
Five corona quick-test stations in Neukölln have been ordered to close following official inspections. Authorities pointed to “structural deficits” in hygiene measures and testing procedures at two of the centres, while other three were shut down due to suspected fraud after a number of complaints from the public. Authorities warned that each of the neighbourhood’s 120 registered test centres will be checked over the coming weeks. In addition to these five centres, two stations in Reinickendorf, including one in a bar, were closed due to improper testing procedures.
New Bürgeramt to ease sluggish bureaucracy
Berlin is planning to open a new Bürgeramt
to ease the problem of lengthy delays in getting official appointments. For years now Berliners applying for an ID card or registering a flat have faced month-long waits to see an official, with many forced to travel to the outer reaches of the city to conduct their business. Now the Senat
is finally taking action with the opening of a new office this August. According to an announcement on Thursday, 20 officials are expected to be employed at the Mitte site, with another 40 people to be hired at other Bürgeramt sites to boost capacity. Meanwhile the antiquated appointment booking website – long a source of irritation – is also set to gain an overhaul.
Rush on Berlinale tickets overloads website
Tickets for the second leg of the Berlinale’s two-part 2021 festival went on sale today at 10am on their website – a moment of excitement that has spectacularly backfired. Cinephiles geared up to purchase tickets early this morning, only to find that the festival’s website – which serves as a portal for ticket outlets – was all but useless. Come 10am, the phrase “Currently unavailable” could be seen next to most ticket options and the majority of the ticket providers saw their websites crash. Only Yorck Kinos have managed to provide some tickets through their app. The festival issued an apology on Twitter, stating that “Due to the great interest, many ticket providers for the Berlinale Summer Special are currently experiencing technical problems with their online shops.” As of yet, no updates on how many tickets have been sold, how many remain, or news on whether more tickets will be activated at another announced date. Not the most auspicious of starts.
Tuesday, June 1
On Tuesday there were 142 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 33.6 cases per 100,000 people
Test-free outdoor dining starts on Friday
The Senat has agreed to ease a range of lockdown restrictions, and will allow indoor dining, test-free outdoor gastronomy and test-free shopping from this Friday, June 4. Indoor diners will still need to present a negative test result before entry, but shopping and outdoor eating and drinking will no longer require a negative test. Berlin’s art and flea markets will also be allowed to reopen this Friday, while the date for allowing overnight stays in Berlin hotels has also been brought forward to Friday, June 11. Fitness studios will open to members with a negative test from Friday. “These are big steps we are taking here,” Economics Senator Ramona Pop said after the Senat’s meeting. “We hope that caution will continue.”
Schools to reopen after court ruling
Berlin’s schools will now fully reopen before the summer holidays after a court ruled against the city government. On Monday the Administrative Court ruled that the Senat’s Wechselunterricht
policy of partial school closures was unlawful, forcing SPD education senator Sandra Scheeres into an embarrassing U-turn. The court accepted a case lodged by two primary school pupils arguing that the closures – which mean school children are taught on alternate days – are in violation of their fundamental rights. While the ruling legally only applies to the two children concerned, the decision has forced the hand of the Senat, which had been strongly resisting a full reopening. According to a report in the Tagesspiegel,
the education administration now wants schools to reopen on June 9.
Monday, May 31
On Monday there were 18 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 32.6 cases per 100,000 people
Berlin set to approve reopening of restaurants
Restaurants could be allowed to serve indoor diners as soon as this Saturday under plans to relax lockdown rules early due to falling Covid-19 rates. According to reports by B.Z.
newspaper, the Senat
is considering extending the current outdoor dining rules to indoor dining, meaning that Berliners will be able to eat and drink in restaurants, cafes and bars after showing proof of a negative Corona test, full vaccination or a previous infection. The move had originally been planned for June 18, but Berlin’s dropping Covid case rate could see it brought forward to this Saturday. Amongst the other changes under consideration are the reopening of hotels and gyms and a relaxing of rules on social gatherings. The city coalition government is set to discuss the proposals at a meeting on Tuesday.
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Fraud fears as Berlin passes five million tests
The Senat says over five million free Covid-19 tests have been administered in Berlin since the beginning of March, as concerns grow over fraudulent operators. According to a report in the Tagesspiegel
on Sunday, Berlin has reimbursed private firms for a total of 4,762,150 free Bürgertests
(“citizens tests”) since the programme started, with another 446,381 carried out directly by the city government. Under the nationwide testing programme, private companies are reimbursed up to €18 for conducting a swab, but since there are no checks on whether the tests are actually being carried out – and to what standard – the system is wide open to abuse. Most of the estimated €86 million that Berlin has spent on testing so far cannot be audited as providers do not have to provide evidence of costs. At the weekend federal health minister Jens Spahn called for stricter monitoring of private operators after a newspaper investigation found incidences of test fraud in North Rhine-Westphalia
Emergency landing at BER
A Ryanair flight was searched by police on Sunday night after making an unscheduled landing at BER. Following what B.Z.
newspapers were reporting as a bomb threat
, federal police met the aircraft as it arrived on the ground at approximately 8pm. The Boeing 737, which was en route from Dublin to Krakow with 160 passengers onboard, made a safe landing before officers approached it on the airfield. As the passengers were taken to the terminal, sniffer dogs were brought in to check the luggage, which had been laid out on the tarmac. According to RBB reports, a spokeswoman for the Bundespolizei
would not give details of the incident “for tactical reasons”. The emergency comes just a week after another Ryanair flight was forced to land in Minsk on the orders of the Belarusian government.
Friday, May 28
On Friday there were 281 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 35 cases per 100,000 people
Covid-19 vaccine approved for children
The European Medicines Agency has approved the Biontech/Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine for children over the age of 12, paving the way for German youngsters to get the jab. Announced on Friday, the decision comes after federal and state governments in Germany agreed to offer vaccinations to children starting June 7, though given the scarcity of doses it is unlikely that large numbers of young people will be vaccinated. Berlin mayor Michael Müller sought to dampen expectations of a mass vaccination campaign for youngsters. “We don’t have any additional vaccines for this,” he said at a meeting with Angela Merkel on Thursday. Previously, the Pfizer vaccine was only approved for people aged over 16.
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Senat spat over reopening schools
is continuing to fight over whether Berlin’s schools should fully reopen before the summer holidays begin June 24. Education senator Sandra Scheeres is insisting on maintaining so-called Wechselunterricht
– where children attend school only part of the time – for the rest of the term to avoid the supposed upheaval of reopening. But the SPD politician is facing mounting pressure to rethink, with the Greens, CDU and even SPD colleagues advocating a swift return to normal teaching. “The organisational reasons put forward by the school senator cannot be reasons to deny Berlin’s pupils a return to face-to-face teaching,” said Green mayoral candidate Bettina Jarasch on Thursday. Parents associations and doctors are also in favour of a return to daily lessons, though Berlin’s teachers union remains strongly opposed.
Rent freeze for social tenants
300,000 tenants living in city-owned social housing in Berlin will have their rents frozen for the rest of 2021 and limits placed on subsequent increases, the Senat
agreed on Thursday. Social tenants who lease from landlords like Degewo, GESOBAU and Gewobag will face rent rises of no more than one percent over the next three years, though increases of two to three percent will be permitted from 2025. The agreement, which is set to be finalised next week, also applies to social tenants whose rents were capped under the now-obsolete Mietendeckel
Thursday, May 27
On Thursday there were 120 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 34.1 cases per 100,000 people
Cyclist dies in Friedrichshain collision
A cyclist died on Thursday morning after a collision with a truck in Friedrichshain. According to eyewitness reports
the young woman was hit by the lorry on Frankfurter Allee whilst trying to avoid a van that had blocked the pop-up cycle lane. The cyclist died at the scene. Emergency responders cordoned off the area around Samariterstraße U-Bahn station while paramedics treated three onlookers for shock. Police did not provide any information about the victim or circumstances of the incident.
Work begins on Mitte multi-faith centre
An ambitious project to bring together Jews, Muslims and Christians in one house of worship began work in Mitte on Thursday. Construction of the House of One
, which will be led by Imam Kadir Sancı, Rabbi Andreas Nachama and the priest Gregor Hohberg, began with the burial of a time capsule. Already ten years in the making, the religious centre will combine rooms allowing people of different faiths to pray separately with communal spaces intended to be a forum for interfaith discussion. The building, which sits on the site of the former Petrikirche church, is set to be completed by 2025.
Wednesday, May 26
On Tuesday there were 76 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 46.5 cases per 100,000 people
Arsonists target Tesla construction site
Police are investigating a case of arson near Tesla’s factory in Grünheide, Brandenburg. Shortly before 3am on Tuesday night, witnesses saw a three-square-metre patch of forest burning approximately 500 metres from the construction site. Police say the fire was caused by the destruction of nearby electricity cables, damaged by perpetrators who posted a written motive to an unnamed “radical left-wing website” under the alias “Vulkangruppe”. “We cut the power supply for the construction site of the Tesla Gigafactory by setting fire to six high-voltage cables,” the note read. “Tesla is not green, ecological or social.” [Read our 2020 feature for more on the local opposition to the Tesla factory.]
Tuesday, May 25
On Tuesday there were 76 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 46.5 cases per 100,000 people
Vonovia buys Deutsche Wohnen for €18 billion
Vonovia and Deutsche Wohnen, Germany’s two largest landlords, will come together under one roof after Vonovia finalised sales terms for its smaller rival today. The deal, which still needs to be approved by regulators, would make Vonovia the largest landlord in Europe, adding Deutsche Wohnen’s 113,000 Berlin apartments to its catalogue of more than 400,000 across Germany, with a total combined value of €80 billion. The sale amounts to around €18 billion, or €53.03 per Deutsche Wohnen share. Both sides agreed to a ban on redundancies related to the merger until January 2024. It’s unclear how the sale will impact the campaign to nationalise Deutsche Wohnen, but the movement’s spokesperson Michael Prütz called the sale a “setback” for the real estate giant.
Police arrest hundreds of Querdenker demonstrators
Police made hundreds of arrests on Saturday after thousands of Corona sceptics gathered in Mitte despite a protest ban. Police had withdrawn permission for a demonstration of 16,000 people over fears that social distancing rules would be ignored, but a large number of people from the Querdenker
scene defied the ban to assemble in numerous smaller groups around Tiergarten and the Brandenburg Gate. Over 3000 police officers attended the gatherings, making 300 arrests for offences including breaching the protest ban and ignoring Covid safety measures. Disturbances were also reported on Sunday after a “vigil” of several hundred sceptics gathered outside Schloss Bellevue in Mitte and at Charlottenburg’s Breitscheidplatz. Police broke up the gathering of 300 people at Schloss Bellevue after participants ignored distancing rules.
Thousands take to the streets for Whitsun protests
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets over the Whitsun weekend to take part in numerous demonstrations, the largest of which was Sunday’s “Mietenwahnsinn” march against rising rents. According to organisers, at least 10,000 people marched from Potsdamer Platz to Nollendorfplatz to call for housing justice, though police made a more conservative estimate of 2500 participants. In contrast to the “Querdenker” gatherings which led to hundreds of arrests, the housing protests were overwhelmingly peaceful and positive, with housing nationalisation campaign “Deutsche Wohnen und Co. enteignen” out in force. Meanwhile on Monday a stretch of the A100 Autobahn
was closed in both directions as over 3000 of cyclists took to the motorway to protest against its proposed extension. The controversial project, which is already underway, will see the construction of a major road artery alongside Treptower Park, over the Spree and through Friedrichshain.
Friday, May 21
On Friday there were 256 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 60.4 cases per 100,000 people
Berlin clubs open their doors
This weekend the city’s clubs will be able to welcome guests once again – as long as they have outdoor space, that is. A number of clubs have already announced they will reopen on Friday including Wilde Renate in Friedrichshain, Klunkerkranich in Neukölln, Revier Südost (previously known as Griessmuehle) and Kreuzberg’s Birgit&Bier. Nightclubs that have gardens or terraces are permitted to operate as beer gardens under new rules governing restaurants and bars, though this means dancefloors will have to remain closed for now. Guests will have to produce a negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination or previous Covid infection.
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Brandenburg welcomes tourists again
Berliners desperate to escape to the countryside can finally make overnight visits to Brandenburg this weekend as a six-month ban on tourist stays comes to an end. Berlin’s neighbouring state will reopen its tourism industry from Friday, with holiday apartments and campsites welcoming guests once again. As in Berlin restaurants, cafes and pubs will also be opening to outdoor diners and drinkers who have a negative Covid-19 test or proof of vaccination or previous infection. Those looking to stay in fancier accommodation will have to wait a bit longer, however: hotels and guesthouses will not open until June at the earliest.
New Covid variant reaches Berlin
33 cases of the so-called Indian variant of Covid-19 have been detected in Berlin, raising the prospect of an outbreak of the highly contagious strain as the capital begins opening up. Despite falling overall transmission in the city, the B.1.617 variant has been detected in growing numbers this week, with 28 cases reported on Wednesday. According to the Senat’s health administration, some of the infections in question were detected in people who had recently arrived in Berlin from overseas. The variant – which was first detected in India in February – is causing growing concern in the UK where almost 3000 cases were identified on Wednesday – 28 per cent more than on Monday.
Thursday, May 20
On Thursday there were 462 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 56.3 cases per 100,000 people
SPD’s mayor candidate resigns from federal job
The SPD candidate for Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey has resigned from her post as federal family minister following long-running allegations that her doctoral thesis was plagiarised. Giffey announced her departure on Wednesday after her alma mater, the FU Berlin, launched an investigation into possible plagiarism relating to her political science dissertation. “In the last few days, discussions about my dissertation from 2010 have arisen again,” the SPD politician said as she announced her resignation. Despite the move, Giffey will remain the SPD candidate to replace governing mayor Michael Müller in city and national elections on September 26. SPD justice minister Christine Lambrecht will take over Giffey’s federal job as a caretaker until a new government enters office in the autumn.
Police ban bank holiday protests
Thousands of people will take to Berlin’s streets this weekend for dozens of demonstrations on the Israel-Palestine conflict and Germany’s lockdown rules. Following concerns over compliance with Covid distancing rules, police have already cancelled two of the biggest demonstrations which would have seen a total of 32,000 people protest against the lockdown on Saturday and Sunday. The first demonstration of the weekend is due to take place in front of the Brandenburg Gate on Thursday evening under the banner “Solidarity with Israel – Against all anti-Semitism”. Top German politicians are expected to speak at the pro-Israel event, which follows Wednesday’s pro-Palestine protest which saw 3000 people gather on Alexanderplatz, resulting in 53 arrests. Authorities have also banned a protest of 2000 Palestine supporters that was due to take place on Saturday in Kreuzberg, with police citing widespread breaches of Covid rules during previous similar demonstrations. On Sunday a further 10,000 people are set to march from Potsdamer Platz to Nollendorfplatz under the banner “Gegen den Mietenwahnsinn!” (“Against rent madness!”).
Wednesday, May 19
On Tuesday there were 370 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 63.3 cases per 100,000 people
Berlin gets reopening schedule
The Senat has decided on a timetable for reopening Berlin’s culture, sport, events and tourism spaces. Assuming that the city’s incidence rate continues to drop, indoor events with up to 100 people will be allowed from June 4. Outdoor events with 500 people will also be allowed, but this will only apply to seated events – no outdoor raves, yet. Indoor fitness studios can open from June 4, with pre-booking and a negative test. Outdoor sports will be permitted with no number restrictions, but testing required for adults. The indoor areas of Berlin Zoo and Botanical Gardens will also be open to guests with a negative test. Key restrictions loosened over the coming weeks include:
From June 4
- Private meetings: Indoors: Five people from two households. Outdoors: 10 people from three households
- Events: Up to 100 people indoors, 500 outdoors
- Cinema, theatre, museums: With reservation and a negative test, both indoors and outdoors
- Retail: With a negative test
- Bars and restaurants: Outdoors only with a negative test or proof of full vaccination
From June 18
- Private meetings: 10 people from three households, unlimited people from three households outdoors
- Events: Up to 200 people indoors, 1000 outdoors
- Cinema, theatre, museums: With reservation and a negative test indoors, with only a test outdoors
- Retail: Without test and booking
- Bars and restaurants: Indoors with social distancing, booking and negative test
- Hotels: Overnight stays for tourists allowed up to a maximum capacity of 50 percent