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  • Daily Berlin news update: Wednesday, August 5


Daily Berlin news update: Wednesday, August 5

Schools in Corona rush, Lompscher faces legal probe, police close Autobahn after robbery, and young journalist killed while cycling. Plus: transport mask checks stepped up.

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Schools plan Corona measures, Lompscher faces tax probe, police close Autobahn in robber hunt

Berlin’s schools go back next week, and district authorities and staff are scrambling to make buildings ready and put procedures in place to protect teachers and pupils from Corona. This week the Senat confirmed that staff and students will be required to wear a mask in corridors and other communal areas. Discussing the new rules with RBB this morning, Education Senator Sandra Scheeres (SPD) said that masks would be made available at school offices and that pupils would not be punished if they forget. “No child will be sent home if they don’t have a face mask,” Scheeres said.

Prosecutors have launched a formal investigation into former Housing Senator Katrin Lompscher, who resigned on Monday following the revelation that she had not declared all of her income on her tax return. According to reports in the Tagesspiegel there are sufficient grounds to investigate the Left Party politician for possible tax evasion, though no criminal behaviour has yet been determined. When the news of the irregularity broke, Lompscher reported the discrepancy to the Finanzamt via her accountant and transferred the amount due, which is reported to be €7020. 

Police closed part of a Berlin Autobahn today in order to investigate an attempted robbery that took place at a Wilmersdorf bank on Tuesday. Part of the A100 located not far from the crime scene was shut in both directions, with the DPA reporting that tracker dogs were being deployed in the area – presumably so police can establish the identity of the suspects. According to police, the suspects first fled the bank on foot before getting into a car by a junction on the A100. The vehicle was subsequently discovered in Neukölln and found to have false number plates. During the heist, a security guard at the bank was shot, though the robbers failed to come away with any money. Investigators are looking at possible connections to the attempted robbery of a branch of the Postbank on Hermannplatz last Friday.

Young journalist killed on bike, arson investigators suspended due to bias, transport mask checks stepped up

Tributes were paid today to a young journalist who was killed on his bike in Adlershof on Monday. More than 80 cyclists gathered this afternoon at the busy crossroads where Mathias Puddig was hit by a swerving lorry and fatally injured. The 35-year-old, who had himself written about the dangers that trucks pose to cyclists, was waiting at a red light when the lorry veered off the road and hit him. According to police, so far this year 11 cyclists have already been killed on Berlin’s roads, compared to six during the whole of 2019. A third of those who die are killed by lorry drivers who turn right and fail to see the cyclist. 

Two prosecutors responsible for investigating a series of politically-motivated arson attacks in Neukölln have been suspended after allegations of bias. For years now left-wing figures and migrant business owners have been targeted by arsonists thought to have far-right motives. Suspicions arose after investigators unearthed evidence of wrongdoing. The Public Prosecutor’s Office has taken over the investigation to ensure there was no “appearance of improper conduct.”

The S-Bahn is to step up checks on its trains to make sure all passengers wear face masks, the Morgenpost is reporting. According to a Bahn spokesperson, those refusing to wear a mask will be asked to leave the train immediately, with Deutsche Bahn security personnel “consistently enforcing mask requirements and removing passengeres who refuse from services.” Previously the S-Bahn had maintained it was not responsible for throwing out passengers contravening the rules. The BVG is also clamping down on mask refusers, with 30,000 passengers questioned and 200 fines handed out so far.

Sex workers get green light, fox kills baby kangaroo at Berlin Zoo

The city’s sex workers will be able to get back to work after the Senat agreed to withdraw the ban on prostitution it introduced during the Corona pandemic. In a session yesterday, Senators put forward revised regulations that will allow bondage and massage from August 8 and sexual intercourse from September. So-called “face-to-face practices” remain out of bounds, however. The news means that brothels will be able to resume operations, though the rules require owners to introduce hygiene restrictions and ensure that guests are registered properly on arrival. 

There were sad scenes at Berlin Zoo today after a fox managed to enter the kangaroo enclosure and kill a young joey. The baby was the only example of a giant red kangaroo in the city, and leaves behind parents Püppi and Stanley. Zoo officials are investigating how the fox was able to get through the supposedly predator-proof fencing that surrounds the enclosure.