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  • Berlin news update: Wednesday, February 24


Berlin news update: Wednesday, February 24

Berlin plans reopening timeline, Corona self-test kits approved, homeless to be vaccinated, police raid public prosecutor’s apartment, new data for fare dodgers and buses to go cash-free.

Image for Berlin news update: Wednesday, February 24

The BVG has announced that it will implement trial cash-free buses post-pandemic. Photo: IMAGO / Jan Huebner

Berlin plans reopening timeline, Corona self-test kits approved 

The Senat has developed a set-by-step plan for reopening, as seen by media outlets like rbb and Tagesspiegel. The draft plan is based around the seven-day-incidence rate, which measures the number of new infections per 100,000 people and currently sits at 60.4. If the rate stays below 50 for seven consecutive days, activities like close-contact outdoor sports will be permitted. Once the incidence drops below 35 for seven consecutive days, museums and memorials may open with restricted access. And once it’s been below 35 for 21 days, fitness studios, cinemas and theatres may reopen. For now, hairdressers are slated to reopen on March 1.

The Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices has approved three seperate at-home self-test kits for use by the public. Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) told ZDF this morning that he expected the kits to be available on supermarket shelves in the coming days. Spahn had said earlier that he wanted free tests to become available by March 1, but that has been delayed until a conference between state and federal leaders on March 3. According to rbb, the approved self-test kits work by analysing samples swabbed from the front of a person’s nose.   

Homeless to be vaccinated, police raid public prosecutor’s apartment

Berlin will soon begin vaccinating its homeless population against Covid-19. Senator for Social Affairs Elke Breitenbach (The Left) says there are plans to vaccinate around 3,000 people currently residing in homeless shelters across the city, with vaccinations to begin next week. Most will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, excluding anyone over 65 years. Information leaflets in multiple languages have already been distributed among the shelters advising resident of the plans.

The apartment of a Berlin public prosecutor was searched today over suspected money laundering. Investigators from the Federal Criminal Police Office spent a few hours in the suspect’s flat, but have not yet announced if they found anything. Authorities allege the suspect disclosed restricted information to third parties and illegally recorded restricted information. The prosecutor has been banned from practicing while investigations continue.

New data for fare dodgers, buses to go cash-free

New figures show that around 550,000 people were caught without a ticket on Berlin public transport in 2020. Around 250,000 of those cases resulted in fines of €60 being issued by the BVG, which operates the city’s U-Bahn, bus and tram lines. Those figures represent a drop of 27%, down from 340,000 on the BVG network alone in 2019. Authorities also say that fewer checks overall were conducted: almost seven million passengers were controlled in 2020, compared with 11.4 million in 2019.

In more public transport news, the BVG has announced that it will implement trial cash-free buses. Once it’s safe, customers will once again be able to purchase tickets from drivers, albeit with only card or mobile payments. As Berliner Zeitung reports, the BVG has tested contactless payments on selected bus lines throughout the pandemic. “Cash payment on the bus will be [eventually] abolished for good, a BVG spokesperson says.