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  • Daily Berlin news update: Friday, July 31


Daily Berlin news update: Friday, July 31

Growth in daily Corona cases, injuries in Karstadt robbery, clubs open doors for outdoor parties, and schools introduce mask requirement.

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Growth in daily Corona cases, injuries in Karstadt robbery, clubs host first open-air parties

As countries across Europe battle to contain new Covid-19 outbreaks, Berlin’s Corona traffic lights are at least for now back on green following a red warning earlier in the week caused by a spike in the rate of transmissions. The R value for the past seven days is 1.23, which means that the virus will continue to spread throughout the city’s population. The number of new cases remained elevated this week, with jumps of 51 on Tuesday, 79 on Wednesday and 82 today constituting some of the biggest daily rises in weeks. A number of small-scale outbreaks such as at the Neulich pub in Neukölln have contributed to the growth in cases. 

Eleven people have been injured this afternoon during a robbery at the Karstadt department store on Hermannplatz. According to the fire service, an irritant substance was sprayed on people during the robbery, which took place at a branch of the Postbank within the Neukölln store. The Karstadt and the neighbouring square and U-Bahn stations were closed off by police, who are now searching for the suspects after they fled the scene. 

A number of clubs including Berghain and Sisyphos will open their doors to dancers for the first time this weekend, in a big test of their ability to host Corona-compliant parties. Berghain will open its outdoor area to guests on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, with a range of coronavirus measures in place including distancing and mask requirements. Similar restrictions will apply at Friedrichshain club ://about blank, which is hosting an “art event” starting Friday evening that features DJs but no dancefloor. In Lichtenberg, Sisyphos is hosting parties for 300 people at its beach area over the weekend, with guests assigned socially-distanced spaces to dance in.

First passengers tested at Schönefeld, schools set for mask requirement

Today Schönefeld airport has joined Tegel in offering Covid-19 testing for arriving passengers. A test station run by the Charité hospital has opened in the arrivals area of the budget terminal following the introduction of testing at Tegel on Wednesday. The tests, which starting next week will be mandatory for those arriving from risk countries, are free of charge and available to all passengers. However those with Coronavirus symptoms are being requested not to use the service, but to go into immediate quarantine and contact their local Gesundheitsamt.

Berlin is set to introduce compulsory mask-wearing in schools, Education Senator Sandra Scheeres (SPD) announced on Thursday. Starting on August 10 as schools return after the summer holidays, both pupils and teachers will have to wear a mouth-and-nose covering in corridors, common rooms and toilets. Classrooms and playgrounds are exempt from the rule.

City-wide demonstrations planned, retailers face insolvency wave

A total of around 22,000 people are expected to attend dozens of protests across the city this weekend, presenting police and politicians with a new challenge to ensure adherence to Corona rules. On Saturday, 10,000 protestors are set to gather in Mitte for the “Querdenken 711” demonstration against the coronavirus restrictions. Participants – who reportedly include members of far-right groups – are being bussed in from as far as Baden-Wurttemberg. A total of 80 gatherings are set to take place, including a 400-strong bike demonstration against forced evictions planned for Saturday night in Neukölln. Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SDP) spoke of the “special challenge” of managing the demonstrations in an interview with RBB today, with 1500 police officers set to be deployed over the weekend. 

Up to a third of retail businesses in Berlin are likely to close as a result of the Corona crisis, the Berlin-Brandenburg Trade Association has said. A massive wave of involvancies is expected to hit the sector as customers steer clear of shops. According to association head Nils Busch-Petersen the collapse in tourism in the city and a general lack of consumer confidence are behind the drop in retail sales, with shops expected to take €1.8 billion less this year due to the crisis.