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  • Daily Berlin news update: Monday, August 10


Daily Berlin news update: Monday, August 10

Schools back with new Corona rules, Michael Müller announces Bundestag candidacy, Kalayci mulls alcohol ban in bars, and airport tests detect 100 Covid cases. Also today: choirs set to sing again.

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Schools return with new rules, Müller to run for Bundestag, alcohol ban in bars considered

Schools in Berlin started the new term today after a six-week summer break, with pupils and staff all required to wear masks in communal areas. The new policy does away with the 1.5m distancing rule that was previously in force in schools and applies uniformly across Berlin, though schools are given some freedom to develop their own approaches. The Humboldt Gymnasium in Tegel for instance offers pupils and staff rapid Corona tests free of charge, while at the Herman-Nohl School in Neukölln the beginning of classes are staggered at 15-minute intervals to reduce contact between pupils walking between lessons.

Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller has announced his intention to run for the Bundestag in the 2021 elections. In a letter to party members, the SPD politician said he is planning to run as a directly-elected candidate in the constituency of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, a move that will see Müller step down from his position as mayor after six years in the job. The Tempelhof-Schöneberg native says he will focus his attention on issues such as affordable housing, gender equality, racism and discrimination. As he previously indicated, Müller will hand over the office of Berlin SPD leader to Federal Family Minister Franziska Giffey at the end of October, making her the favoured candidate to take over from Müller as mayor.

Berlin’s pubs and bars will face tighter Corona rules and may even be prohibited from selling alcohol, Health Senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD) has said. In an interview with the Morgenpost, Kalayci expressed concern about the lack of adherence to distancing rules in drinking establishments. “In pubs, a lot of people come into close contact, and if there’s a lot of drinking things become difficult,” Kalayci said. As a result checks on such venues by police and the Ordnungsämt are being stepped up to crack down on guests and businesses breaking the rules. Kalayci suggested that if the situation does not improve, the Senat could ban the sales of alcohol in bars and pubs. “Alcohol consumption makes people more careless and noisy. This leads to the spread of infections,” the Health Senator said.

Climate activists occupy power station, hundred test positive at airports

Climate activists occupied Moabit power station at the weekend to protest against Germany’s continued use of coal for electricity generation. On Saturday morning around 20 protestors entered the site of the coal- and biomass-fired power station, which is currently closed for maintenance. The activists unrolled banners and remained at the plant for 34 hours before leaving on their own accord. Police and plant operator Vattenfall decided not to intervene, though officers subsequently took down the protestors’ details and filed a report for trespassing.

It’s been less than a week since the government introduced mandatory testing for passengers arriving from Corona risk areas and numerous cases of Covid-19 have already been detected at airports, Health Senator Dilek Kalayci has said. “Tests at Berlin’s airports and at the central coach station have already identified 100 positive Corona cases since the middle of last week,” the SPD politician told the Morgenpost today. At present passengers arriving from risk areas like the USA, Brazil and Turkey are required to get tested upon entry into Germany.

Berliners take to the lakes, choirs set to sing again 

Hot weather brought Berliners to the lakes in their droves at the weekend, leading police to close a number of public lidos due to overcrowding. Schlachtensee and Plötzensee were both full throughout the weekend, while the lido at Müggelsee was closed by police on Saturday after its maximum capacity was reached. There is additional pressure on Berlin’s lakes this summer because of the strict capacity limits in place at outdoor pools, which though booked out remained relatively quiet. Meanwhile, a man drowned at Malchower See in Lichtenberg on Sunday evening. Lifeguards and paramedics were able to retrieve the swimmer from the water but were unable to save him. 

Berlin’s choirs are set to meet up once again after the Senat released new guidance to prevent the spread of coronavirus amongst singers. Following the Senat’s agreement in July to allow singers to gather in indoor environments, Culture Senator Klaus Lederer has today set out new rules which include two metres distance between singers and the recommendation that choir members wear masks. While the move will be good news for amateur singers and churches, the Senat is imposing a 15 minute limit on singing sessions – extended to 30 minutes if the venue is equipped with a suitable ventilation system.