Berlin News

Berlin news update: Wednesday, March 3

Germany to extend coronavirus lockdown, border controls remain, AfD under state surveillance, police take down “cocaine taxi” ring, dwindling passenger numbers at BER and local rapper gets suspended sentence.

Article image for Berlin news update: Wednesday, March 3

Germany to extend coronavirus lockdown, border controls remain, AfD under state surveillance

Germany’s leaders plan to extend the national lockdown until March 28, according to a draft document seen by several media outlets. National leaders are meeting today to discuss reopening some sectors of the economy in regions with relatively low infection rates. [Update: Get a full overview of the new rules here.]

Germany will continue controls on the Czech and Austrian borders until at least March 17, authorities announced. Hard controls are in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus variants prevalent in the region, meaning only German residents, truck drivers and cross-border workers are currently allowed to enter at those points.

Germany’s Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV) has placed the far-right party Alternative for Germany (AfD) under surveillance, media reports say. Due to an ongoing legal dispute with the AfD, which launched a court case to prevent itself from formal investigation, the BfV refused to confirm or deny reports from outlets such as Der Spiegel, DPA and public broadcaster ARD. As DW reports, placing the AfD under official watch would allow the BfV more tools for surveillance, such as phone-taps.

Berlin police take down “cocaine taxi” ring,  dwindling passenger numbers at BER, local rapper gets suspended sentence 

Berlin police say they have taken down a so-called “coke taxi” ring after a series of raids found weapons, drugs and €47,000 in cash. As Berliner Zeitung reports, police searched 14 apartments throughout the city on Tuesday, making 14 arrests and seizing three suspected delivery vehicles. Police allege the network made more than 2,000 deliveries before being raided. “Today’s operation against coke taxis shows how gangs are increasingly international and mobile,” a police spokesperson said.

Passenger numbers at BER airport continue to decline due to the impacts of tightening quarantine measures and travel restrictions. In February, an average of 5,000 passengers flew per day, representing a 93 percent drop when compared to February 2020. “The comprehensive quarantine regulations due to the Covid-19 pandemic brought flight operations to an almost complete standstill,” an airport spokesperson said. 

The Berlin rapper Fler has been fined €10,000 and given a 10-month suspended sentence after being found guilty of a range of offences by a Tiergarten district court. Those offences included driving without a licence, attempted coercion and aiding and abetting prohibited communication from court proceedings. Aged 38, Fler is one of Berlin’s best-known rappers. He famously fell out with fellow local rapper Bushido, who also been having his own legal troubles. Throughout the trial, Fler clashed with journalists, and even stormed out of the courtroom after one encounter. Prosecutors had been pushing for a jail sentence.