Berlin News

Daily Berlin news update: Friday, October 2

Mitte and Neukölln residents face new travel restrictions, protests as Berlin marks reunification, Tegel airport confirms final flight and alcohol-free Späti opens in Kreuzberg.

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German states classify Mitte as risk area, citywide protests as Berlin marks reunification

Schleswig-Holstein and Rheinland-Pfalz have classified Mitte as a Covid-19 risk area, meaning that anyone travelling to the two German states from the city centre district will face a 14-day quarantine period. Rheinland-Pfalz has also added Neukölln to its list of high-risk areas. The measures were announced this afternoon, on a day which has seen Berlin report 339 new coronavirus cases – the city’s biggest one-day increase since the start of the pandemic. Mitte is currently reporting a seven-day incidence of 59.6 cases per 100,000 inhabitants – the second highest rate in Germany, with other hotspots including Neukölln with 51.5 cases per 100,000 and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg with 53.7. People arriving in Schleswig-Holstein and Rheinland-Pfalz from Berlin’s risk areas are required to register with the local authorities and go into immediate isolation.

This weekend Berlin will mark the 30th anniversary of German reunification with several low-key events, including light shows at the German Foreign Office and the Oberbaumbrücke in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. Numerous protests are expected throughout Friday and Saturday, though the reasons for the gatherings are more current: Corona sceptics once again assembled this afternoon in front of the Brandenburg Gate to protest against measures to control the pandemic. The 200-strong demonstration is set to end tonight at Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz, where left-wing counter demonstrators are due to gather. Further protests against the measures are planned on Saturday, with several groups set to meet in Mitte. Some participants called for a repeat of the attempted storming of the Reichstag on August 30.

Tegel announces last flight, 40,000 tablets for Berlin’s schools, pharmacies face closure

After more than 60 years in operation, Tegel airport is to finally close on November 8 with a final flight departing to Paris, it was announced this week. The ceasing of operations follows the opening of BER on October 31, with all flights to be transferred to the new airport over a one-week period. The last Tegel departure will be the 3pm Air France departure to Charles de Gaulle airport – a nod to the airport’s post-war period as a part of Berlin’s French sector.

Around 40,000 of Berlin’s schoolchildren are set to be given tablet computers, the Senat announced yesterday. The city is to receive €25.7 million in federal funding for the tablets, which come in addition to 9500 devices that have already been issued. The aim is to provide socially disadvantaged pupils with a means to learn online, as part of Germany’s belated push towards digital technology.

As many as 80 pharmacies in Berlin are facing closure after the firm that handles their payments collapsed. AvP, which acts as a middleman between health insurance funds and chemists, went into administration last month. Normally, the firm reimburses pharmacies for the money they spend on medications, though now chemists are faced with a prolonged wait for funds that they are owed – threatening the existence of 10 percent of all of the city’s drug dispensaries.  

Alcohol-free Späti opens, couple caught in U-Bahn sex act

To most, a booze-free Spätkauf seems like a contradiction in terms, but the Kreuzberg cafe and event space Hallesches Haus wants to change that with a kiosk that sells only alcohol-free drinks. Throughout so-called  “sober October”, thirsty Berliners looking to go dry can find a selection of alcohol-free beers, wines and spirits on sale at the temporary  “Null Prozent” space, which is open until October 25.

A disturbance on the U-Bahn came to light this week: a couple were caught having underground intercourse on one of Berlin’s metro trains. A video has emerged showing a couple engaged in the act as the train trundles along and the driver makes the usual announcements. A BVG spokeswoman was unaware of the spicy video. “It probably happened late in the day, when you’re often alone in the train and might dare to do something like that,” Petra Nelken told newspaper B.Z.