Berlin News

Daily Berlin news update: Monday, September 28

City set for Covid crackdown, 200 police check masks at Dong-Xuan-Center, BVG strikes to bring public transport to a standstill, and Berlin considered for nuclear waste site.

Article image for Daily Berlin news update: Monday, September 28

Senat signals new Covid restrictions, Corona checks at Dong-Xuan-Center, concerns over rule breaking in Neukölln 

The Senat is set to introduce further restrictions in an attempt to control the recent uptick in Covid-19 infections across Berlin, health senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD) has said. In an interview with the Morgenpost on Sunday, Kalayci said the situation in Berlin is “highly critical” and that new rules are likely to see private gatherings reduced to no more than five people, with additional measures to prevent illegal parties and celebrations. The Senat is set to announce the new regime in a session on Tuesday. 

A large police operation was underway today to check compliance with Covid-19 rules at the Dong-Xuan-Center. Around 200 police officers were deployed to the Lichtenberg wholesaler – which is the main supplier to Berlin’s Asian restaurants and shops – to monitor whether mask-wearing and distancing regulations were being followed. The B.Z. reported that arrests had been made.

Neukölln councillor Falko Liecke (CDU) has warned that his constituents are failing to adhere to Corona rules as the number of new infections in the area continues to increase. Liecke described the situation as “very precarious” in comments made to the Tagesspiegel today. “I firmly expect that the Senat will decide in favour of restrictions on Tuesday,” Liecke said, adding that there was “zero” adherence to the rules amongst young people in his district. Both Neukölln and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg are reporting weekly infection rates of almost 50 per 100,000 inhabitants, the threshold at which the city says it will toughen the rules.

Article image for Daily Berlin news update: Monday, September 28

Strikes to bring chaos to buses and trains, police report refutes Neukölln far-right claims

Anyone planning to commute on Berlin’s buses and U-Bahn trains tomorrow is out of luck as a planned BVG strike threatens to bring the city to a standstill. Between 3am and midday on Tuesday almost all U-Bahn, tram and bus services are to be suspended due to the industrial action, though the city’s transport authority hopes to operate a small number of bus routes. In total 4000 drivers in Berlin are set to walk out as part of the nationwide dispute over pay and conditions. S-Bahn drivers are not involved in the strikes, with Deutsche Bahn expected to operate additional services to cope with increased passenger numbers.

Police say there is no evidence of organised far-right criminality in Neukölln in a special report on the issue published today. The investigation had been set up following a series of arson attacks between 2016 and 2018 against left-wing figures living in the area, but police say they are unable to prove that three suspects who belonged to far-right groupings were responsible. Commenting on the report, Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) said that the findings showed that a “right-wing extremist network” did not exist in Neukölln. Politicians from the Left and Green parties criticised the report as insufficient and accused the police of bias. An independent commission into the issue is set to start work next month.

Berlin considered for nuclear waste storage, BER budget terminal to be mothballed

Parts of Berlin and Brandenburg have been identified as possible sites for the underground storage of nuclear waste, it has been announced today. BGE, the federal agency responsible for the long-term management and disposal of Germany’s nuclear material, has identified areas including Reinickendorf, Spandau and Treptow-Köpenick as well as southern and western Brandenburg as “geographically suitable” for storage. In total 54 percent of Germany’s land area has been deemed suitable for hosting the site, which from 2050 will be filled with radioactive material from the nation’s legacy nuclear power stations.

BER’s low cost Terminal 2 is finished and ready to open – but will remain closed until 2021 due to Covid. Airport bosses said last week that because of the collapse in air passenger numbers the additional terminal will not be needed when the new hub opens in a month’s time. “The capacity of the main terminal is sufficient. It is cheaper not to put T2 into operation for the time being,” BER’s Board Chairman Rainer Bretschneider told the Tagesspiegel. Built to serve budget airlines, Terminal 2 was a late addition to increase BER’s capacity following forecasts which showed a future of large air passenger growth to and from the capital. The airport operator says it can save €500,000 a month by mothballing the terminal.