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  • Berlin news update: Monday, March 1


Berlin news update: Monday, March 1

Mayor demands new vaccine strategy, call for Covid tests to end lockdown, hairdressers open doors, theatre boss warns of lasting Corona damage and low-key launch for Berlinale.

Kino International - Aktion Kino leuchtet. F¸r dich. anl‰sslich der nur f¸r die Fachwelt virtuell stattfindenden Berlinale und im Hinblick auf die Beratungen der Regierungschef:innen von Bund und L‰ndern ¸ber den Stufenplan zur Wiedererˆffnung mit Blick auf die immer noch geschlossenen Kulturorte. Berlin, 28.02.2021 *** Kino International Aktion Kino leuchtet F¸r dich on the occasion of the Berlinale, which is only taking place virtually for professionals, and in view of the consultations of the heads of government of the federal and state governments on the phased plan for reopening with a view to the still closed cultural venues Berlin, 28 02 2021 Foto:xN.xKubelkax/xFuturexImage

Cinemas across Germany were lit up ahead of today’s Berlinale opening to highlight the plight of the industry. Photo: IMAGO / Future Image

Müller demands revised vaccine rollout, call for rapid tests to end measures, Kalayci in lockdown warning

Mayor Michael Müller has called on the federal government to urgently revise the Covid-19 vaccine rollout strategy so that Berlin’s GP surgeries can also administer jabs. “Given the rising rate of infections we cannot lose any more time,” Müller told the Tagesspiegel newspaper today. In a bid to boost the rollout of the AstraZeneca vaccine in particular, Müller is seeking a change to the law which would allow people with medical conditions under the age of 65 to be given the vaccine directly by their family doctor. The suggestion comes after reports from across Germany of vials of the UK-made vaccine sitting unused due to public reticence.  

The head of Berlin’s senate chancellery Christian Gaebler has indicated that rapid Covid-19 testing could be used to end the lockdown more quickly. Until now, state and federal politicians had suggested that rules would only be relaxed when the seven-day incidence rate dropped below a certain level. “We will make the first steps in a range that is above 35,” Gaebler said, referring to the case rate per 100,000 people which some are suggesting should be the minimum for reopening businesses and cultural institutions. Gaebler said rapid self-testing would make the likes of theatre visits and restaurant meals possible. German state leaders are to meet with Chancellor Angela Merkel this Wednesday to agree on a plan for reopenings.

Despite growing calls to begin loosening the Covid lockdown, Berlin’s health senator Dilek Kalayci has warned against “euphoric” demands to reopen the economy. In comments reported in the Morgenpost today the SPD politician said that “relaxations should be the exception,” and argued that the upward trend in new infections effectively ruled out immediate changes to current rules. The comments come in contrast to calls by mayor Michel Müller and senate chancellor Christian Gaebler for the use of rapid Corona tests to expedite reopenings.

Hairdressers open doors, theatre boss warns of lasting Corona damage, low-key launch for Berlinale

Berlin’s hairdressers opened their doors to customers today for the first time since December. Some salons opened just after midnight on Monday in order to meet pent-up demand for haircuts, with appointments at many places booked out for weeks ahead. According to the Berlin Hairdressers’ Guild, customers should be prepared for higher prices since salons can only operate at 50–70 percent capacity because of distance and hygiene regulations. Salon customers are required to comply with revised measures, including wearing FFP2 or surgical face masks.

The director of the Volksbühne has warned of permanent damage to theatres due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Speaking to the Berliner Zeitung newspaper on Sunday, Klaus Dörr said he expects many in the industry will be forced to give up their profession. “I fear that a fifth of theatre professionals will have to look for new work,” he said. Dörr also questioned the benefit of keeping theatres closed. “There is still not a single proven case of infection that has happened in a theatre,” he said. Politicians have yet to give a date for when playhouses will reopen, though Berlin culture senator Klaus Lederer has indicated that virus mutations may prevent a swift relaxation of the rules. 

Today marked the first day of the 2021 Berlinale without any of the red carpet glamour usually associated with the annual film festival. This year the competition is to be held without public audiences, with only juries entitled to view films on the big screen. To mark the occasion, 300 cinemas across Germany were lit up yesterday to highlight the current plight of the movie theatre industry. A second Berlin film festival dubbed “Summer Special” is planned for June 9–20, giving audiences a chance to see competition films in the cinema.