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Berlin daily news blog: coronavirus, politics, culture, business and more

The latest about the coronavirus, politics, culture, business and more from Berlin and beyond.

Berlin’s previous Global Climate Strike was back in March. Photo: IMAGO / Mike Schmidt

Friday 23, September

On Friday, there were 1,526 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 204.1 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin’s rent index delayed, Fridays for Future, another bomb

This is a slightly complicated one. Berlin may not have a valid Mietspiegel, or rent index, from May next year. Ok, but what is the Mietspeigel? It’s basically an index of rents which acts as a (non-binding) guideline for both tenants and landlords when deciding whether to increase rents and by how much. Usually published every two years, the rent index is created from a survey of tenants and landlords. The creation of a new index for next year has been delayed by a lawsuit which claims that Berlin’s short-lived rent cap delayed the gathering of data, meaning the incoming survey should be considered illegal. The court-case will be decided in mid-October, but the Berlin Senate claims that – whatever the outcome – this will not leave enough time to complete the rent index by May. This could lead to a period with no fixed guidelines – potentially allowing landlords to raise rents without any restraining framework (which is probably the aim of the lawsuit anyway).

Today will also see the latest Global Climate Strike take place in Berlin, organised by Fridays for Future. At least 8,000 participants are expected at the demonstration which starts at 12 noon at Invalidenpark. And finally, another WW2 bomb has been found in Berlin. This one is in Moabit, and it will lead to some closures of the S-Bahn ring, but they aren’t actually going to evacuate residents and detonate the device until Monday. Fair enough, it’s waited this long, what’s another weekend?

Many Berlin streets will be free of cars today – unless you’re in Spandau. Photo: IMAGO / Matthias Koch

Thursday 22, September

On Thursday, there were 1,604 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 201.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Happy World Car Free Day, Friday for Future, Berlin Bioweapons

Happy World Car Free Day, everyone! Public transport in the AB fare zone in Berlin is available free of charge today, and side streets across the city will be closed to car and bicycle traffic between 15:00 and 19:00. But the fight for a cleaner, greener planet continues on Friday, as Berlin – like cities all over Germany and the world – will see demonstrations from the climate protection movement Fridays for Future. Activists are demanding a special fund of €100 billion be established to radically expand the supply of renewable energy – a demand that seems particularly pressing given where Germany is right now with gas supply.

Finally, more than 1,000 emergency service personnel including specialists from the FBI, Japanese police and observers from the Israeli embassy have been out in Spandau since Tuesday dealing with the fallout from a biological weapons attack. Apparently the incident saw three assassins attack a cinema, leading to the death of 19 people. Why haven’t you heard about this? Because it was a simulation. Today will be the last day of the exercise, which is aimed at training emergency services to deal with these kind of extraordinary threats.

Kids play in the street on last year’s car free day. Photo: IMAGO / Seeliger

Wednesday 21, September

On Wednesday, there were 1,484 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 199.0 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin’s public transport is free tomorrow; Berlin Senator calls for gas price cap

Tomorrow, September 22, Berlin is taking part in World Car-Free Day. This means that streets across the city will be closed to cars and the city’s public transport will be available to all, free of charge. Not every street which will be closed to traffic (previous years did not actually see a decrease in traffic volume) but nevertheless the move was talked up by Berlin Environment Senator Bettina Jarasch (Greens) who said: “On Car-Free day we can experience in practice what Berlin looks like when street space is opened to the people.” The free public transport only applies to the AB fare zone; Brandenburg, again, didn’t want to take part.

Elsewhere, Berlin’s Senator for Social Affairs, Katja Kipping (Die Linke), has called on the federal government to introduce a cap on gas prices. “If I could,” she said, “I would say immediately that there is a price cap for all Berlin. But only the federal government has this instrument.” In the short term, she advised anyone hit with an extraordinary bill to negotiate with the company and find an agreement where you can pay off the bill over a longer period without any added interest.

Berlin police were filmed racially abusing a Syrian couple. Photo: Twitter

Tuesday 20, September

On Tuesday, there were 2,096 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 206.2 cases per 100,000 people.

Video of Syrian family being racially abused by police brings very different reactions from Berlin politicians

“We don’t want such a policeman in Berlin,” said Interior Secretary Torsten Akmann (SPD) on Monday. “The Senate strongly condemns such behaviour, it is absolutely unacceptable.” This follows the release last week of a video which showed two policemen verbally abusing a Syrian couple in the bedroom of their Lichtenberg apartment. To make matters worse, the police were there to arrest the man for the supposed non-payment of a fine which had, in fact, been paid.

After pushing the man to the ground and attempting to arrest him, his wife complains about the police storming into their apartment. “This is my country and you are a guest here,” one police officer tells her. “Shut up and don’t touch me again… I’ll take you to jail.”

The case was publicised by the Berlin MP Ferat Koçak (Die Linke), who held a press conference alongside the couple. Koçak pointed out that if there had been no video recording, the police would likely have faced no consequences for their actions and said that the German police “have a Nazi problem, not just a problem with structural racism.” Torsten Akmann (SPD) chided his colleague for that statement, calling it “intolerable”. Meanwhile, the AfD posted a graphic on twitter celebrating the policemen’s actions: the message read “No police racism, but the truth!”

How high will your next gas bill be? Photo: IMAGO / Action Pictures

Monday 19, September

On Monday, there were 1,189 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 211.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Very steep increases in gas prices for Berlin and Brandenburg

Each week, another story seems to come out about people in Berlin and Brandenburg opening their mail to get extremely high gas bills. First there was a Berliner who had been paying €85 per month – and was presented with a €883 bill from November. Now there is another woman living in Brandenburg whose bills have risen from €143 to €1,515, also starting in November. In both cases, the gas supplier was MITGAS, a natural gas supplier based in Saxony-Anhalt with over 20,000 customers in Berlin and Brandenburg.

Berlin’s red-red-green coalition government will meet on Monday to discuss potential debt relief to help with rising energy costs, but there is some uncertainty over exactly what form any aid would take. It seems likely that they will introduce a moratorium on evictions from state-owned housing. This was undertaken during the pandemic and would provide some security for approximately 350,000 Berlin residents. However, providing cash directly for needy tenants may prove more difficult: the state-owned IBB investment bank will probably step in again, providing loans to small- to medium-sized businesses and individual aid where possible.Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey also clarified yesterday that it will be possible to subscribe to Berlin’s €29 ticket for a single month.

Meanwhile in football news, FC Union, Berlin’s “rebel” club, continued their remarkable start to the season: they beat Wolfsburg yesterday to remain top of the Bundesliga.

Berliners demonstrating for cheap public transport. Photo: IMAGO / IPON

Friday 16, September

On Friday, there were 1,289 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 209.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin gets its €9 ticket… €29 ticket… €29 ticket with a 3-month subscription

Maybe it’s churlish to complain, but we can’t help it. The €9 ticket was a big success, everyone loved it, it increased tourism across Germany and saved tons of carbon emissions. It was such a success that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) called it “one of the best ideas we’ve had.” In order to follow up on the success, the Berlin SPD said they would like to extend the scheme, also at the €9 rate, until the end of the year. The Greens, however, didn’t like that idea – nor did Brandenburg – and negotiations began. Finally we get the result: a €29 ticket, covering only Berlin’s AB fare zone, for which you’ve got to subscribe for the whole three months. Maybe we can call it one of the next best ideas they’ve had.

This is what you what you need to know about the incoming ticket:

  • It covers the AB fare zone for October, November and December
  • It’s a subscription: you can’t buy a single month, only all three, and you will have to cancel the subscription after 3 months
  • If you’ve got an AB subscription already, you’ll get a refund
  • If you’ve got an ABC subscription, you won’t – C is not included in the scheme

In other Berlin mobility news, the Berlkönig successor was launched today. The shared taxi service was more or less killed off by the pandemic. It’s replacement, called Muva, is a little different, but will also see minivans dropping passengers off at ‘virtual stops.’ The service will run in east Berlin, in particular the districts of Lichtenberg, Marzhn-Hellersdorf and Treptow-Köpenick, as well as a small part of Friedrichshain.

Musk at the opening of the Grünheide factory. Photo: IMAGO / Political-Moments

Thursday 1, September

On Thursday, there were 1,756 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 210.0 cases per 100,000 people.

Tesla backing out of battery production in Grünheide; Topless woman has case dismissed

Elon Musk has a history of broken promises, and with the Tesla factory at Grünheide already behind schedule, it now seems that Tesla is considering suspending its plan to manufacture batteries in the location altogether. According to a report, potential tax incentives from the US following the introduction of the Inflation Reduction Act could be worth billions to the car manufacturer: if they meet certain criteria, Tesla would be rewarded with a $7,500 tax credit per purchase. Abandoning the plans in Brandenburg would deprive the area of the approximately 2,000 jobs that were to be created if it went ahead.

Elsewhere, a woman’s case was dismissed yesterday by a Berlin district court after she demanded compensation from a water playground who has told her she needed to cover her upper body. In June 2021, the plaintiff was sunbathing topless in Berlin’s Plänterwald when two police officers approached and told her she needed to cover up, or leave. She commented that there were plenty of men walking topless, but was ignored. This amounted to gender discrimination, she argued, demanding €10,000 in compensation from the Berlin state. Outside the court, she told reporters that she wanted to combat the constant sexualisation of women’s breasts.

Berlin is set for a €29 monthly travel ticket this autumn. But will Brandenburg (and zone C) be included? Photo: IMAGO / Jochen Eckel

Wednesday 14, September

On Wednesday, there were 1,714 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 204.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin wants €29 ticket, Brandenburg say no; Art Week; Queenie

The Berlin Senate and the city’s red-red-green coalition are in agreement: from October through December, a travel ticket costing €29 per month will come into effect covering the AB fare zone. The only thing left to decide is whether it will also include the C area. This depends on getting the agreement of Brandenburg, who’ve been against the plan up until now. The final decision on whether Brandenburg is included in the scheme will be decided at a meeting on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Berlin Art Week starts today. More than 300 exhibitions take place across the city, from the Uferhallen in Wedding (see our latest issue) to Charlottenburg and Lichtenberg, there’s tonnes going on at galleries and art spaces. Check out our preview here.

Finally, Queenie is coming to Berlin. No, not that one – she’s lying in state at Buckingham Palace. Rather, Queenie is an area of low-pressure weather arriving in the region from the north. Expect things to get quite a bit cooler over the next few days, with temperatures not exceeding 13 or 14 degrees. The fact that the name seems to refer to the British Queen is a coincidence: the name was assigned well ahead of last Thursday, when the 96-year-old monarch died.

There are more wolves in Brandenburg than almost any other state in Germany. Photo: IMAGO / Panthermedia

Tuesday 13, September

On Tuesday, there were 2,146 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 198.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Shooting wolves, biting spiders, jabbing humans

Brandenburg has more wolves than almost any other state in Germany, with more than 49 wolf packs roaming the countryside. The animals are protected, but a change in the law will now allow the targeted shooting of animals which repeatedly kill livestock like cattle and horses. The protection of wolves in the region means that farmers are already compensated for any damage caused by wolves, and fences and protective guard dogs are fully funded by the state.

Another creature which has been menacing Berlin this summer is the so-called Nosferatu spider. Originally from regions closer to the Mediterranean, it has been appearing further north due to the warming climate, with several sightings in Berlin over the summer. Approximately 4cm in size, the spider gets its name from the markings on its back, which are said to look like the Nosferatu vampire from the 1922 silent film. The spider is poisonous, though the effects of the bite aren’t particularly serious and comparable to a wasp sting.

Finally, today will see the first vaccinations in Berlin with the new Omicron jab. Although it is available to all, as things stand, the official recommendation is for people over the age of 60 and those who belong to high-risk groups to get boosted.

Berlin’s students are struggling to find accommodation. Photo: IMAGO / Frank Sorge

Monday 12, September

On Monday, there were 1,152 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 193.2 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin’s students need housing, BER still has your luggage

With just three weeks to go until the start of the semester, Berlin’s students are facing a very tough time finding accommodation in the city. Not only do they face the same housing crisis as the rest of us – with rising rents and extraordinary demand for flat viewings – but no other German state has such a low rate of accommodation in publicly funded dormitories. Just 5.32 percent of Berlin’s students find a place in halls of residence, compared to 16.39 percent in Thuringia (the nation’s highest rate). In 2015, the Senate promised to build at least 5,000 new student dormitories, but between 2018 and 2022 only managed 2,448. What’s more, it was recently announced that due to rising energy costs, rents for this type of accommodation would increase by €60 per month from January 2023.

Meanwhile at everyone’s favourite airport BER, more than 3,000 suitcases are still stacked unclaimed in the basement. Last summer saw a massive increase in mislaid luggage, with whole sections of BER (and many other airports) being cordoned off to house people’s missing bags. Airport manage Aletta von Massenbach has pointed out that these problems do not arise at Berlin-Brandenburg Airport itself, but rather that the suitcases may be lost at some point along the journey and then delivered to BER later.

Flowers laid outside the British embassy in Berlin. Photo: Alex Bidstrup

Friday 09, September

On Friday, there were 1,293 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 195.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin mourns Britain’s last ever Queen

Last night, shortly after the news broke of the passing away of Queen Elizabeth II, some Berliners had already started to lay flowers outside the British embassy on Wilhelmstrasse. The British flag is flying at half mast, and Berlin’s mayor Franziska Giffey has made a statement in which she said that the “power of her great personality has always fascinated us Berliners”, which only half sounds like something you’d say a friend of your kid’s who you don’t like. Given the state of United Kingdom, plus the fact there were already three blokes waiting in line, it is hard to imagine the whole thing will last long enough to have another woman sit upon the throne. The Queen visited Berlin 7 times – and was in fact the first reigning British monarch ever to visit a Berlin that was part of Germany: at the time of the previous visit, undertaken in 1913 by King George V, the city was still officially within the Kingdom of Prussia. 

And now, if you want to confuse a British person today, ask them to sing the national anthem.

Extinction Rebellion coloured the Spree green. Photo: Stefan Mueller/Extinction Rebellion.

Thursday 8, September

On Thursday, there were 1,599 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 197.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Green river, Green mayor, grey skies

On Wednesday, activists from Extinction Rebellion coloured the Spree green in Mitte to protest inaction against climate change. They also hung a large banner that read “Climate catastrophe is now. Rise up or die out”.

The group stated that a non-toxic agent was used for the stunt, specifically a chemical used by water authorities to mark and track bodies of water. Because the activists didn’t give the police a 48-hour warning of their plan to demonstrate, four people are now accused of violating the Freedom of Assembly Act, though none of them have been identified.

More bad news for the environment, but great news for accountability, as Mitte’s mayor, Stephan von Dassel (Greens) could be voted out of offie today. Von Dassel has come under criticism in recent weeks in connection with an alleged shady recruitment process. The 55-year-old Green politician, who has been in office since 2016, refuses to resign despite the urgings of his own party. A large majority is expected to vote out Dassel, as all parties except for the AfD have declared no confidence in him.

And finally, today’s rain is expected to develop into a heavy thunderstorm in the afternoon, summer’s death rattle perhaps.

A german TV show conducted a “needle spiking” experiment in Berlin. Photo: Alexander Popov / Unsplash

Wednesday 7, September

On Wednesday, there were 1,507 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 193.2 cases per 100,000 people.

Needle spiking experiment, Berlin’s €29 ticket

A TV show is set to air tonight on German TV channel Pro-Sieben, in which the filmmakers conducted a controversial experiment on visitors to a club in Berlin-Friedrichshain. A 27-year-old woman was dancing in the club, when she suddenly felt a prick on her upper right arm. Knowing of the reports of needle-spiking in Berlin last summer, she was concerned, but remained at the venue until she heard from another friend that they had experienced the same thing. It was when the group decided to leave, they claim, that a camera crew at the exit told them it was part of an experiment – and that the item which had touched their arm was not a needle, but a highlighter. Nevertheless, the woman criticised the broadcaster for deliberately frightening and upsetting women at the venue. The feature will air tonight, as part of the programme: Zervakis & Opdenhövel.

Elsewhere, it looks like Berlin is slowly deciding what its temporary successor to the much-missed €9 ticket will look like. We’ve known for a while that the state government wanted to introduce a replacement to cover October, November and December. At first, Berlin’s mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) came out with a (for her) unexpectedly radical proposal: extend it for Berlin’s AB fare zone and keep the price at €9. But the coalition partners – especially the Greens – didn’t like that. Now we’ve got a compromise: a €29 ticket just for Berlin, to accompany the €49–€69 ticket nationwide. Transport Senator Bettina Jarasch (Greens) said: “I think a tiered system is good…. a regional ticket for €29… in addition [to] a nationwide €69 ticket.”

Mercury poisoning? Salt dumping? Toxic algae? Photo: IMAGO / Eastnews

Tuesday 6, September

On Tuesday, there were 1,846 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 208.4 cases per 100,000 people

Fish keep dying. We don’t know why

In early August, thousands of dead fish began washing up in the River Oder on the German-Polish border. We still don’t know the exact cause – there has been speculation about mercury poisoning, the industrial dumping of salt, toxic algae or some combination of causes – but it is estimated that this catastrophe has led to the death of between 25 and 50 percent of all fish in the river. On Sunday, there were fears that the situation had worsened again when more fish carcasses appeared in a tributary to the Oder: the Wriezener Alte Oder, a 10-kilometre section of river between Bralitz and Oderberg. At first, an alert was issued for the whole area from Eberswalde to the Oder, but the situation now appears to be on a smaller scale than first feared. It seems that this section of the river was sealed off from the Oder following the first wave of the disaster, and a lack of oxygen caused by the reduced flow of fresh water may have caused fish to suffocate. The initial disaster is still being investigated. The results of toxicology tests are expected by the end of September. Until then, we might stay away from locally sourced freshwater fish.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Finance Minister Christian Lindner announce the new relief package. Photo: IMAGO / Chris Emil Janßen

Monday 5, September

On Monday, there were 1,586 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 203.1 cases per 100,000 people.

Germany’s €65 billion relief package

The good news is that there will be a successor to the €9 ticket. The bad news is that it will cost €49 to €69 per month, which seems to fall a bit short of expectations. It will only come into effect from next year, but Berlin is expected to make some sort of €9 successor ticket of its own for the months of October, November and December.

And that is only one measure of the relief package introduced to combat rising energy prices. Pensioners will also receive the €300 payout which is already being given to everyone in employment – while students will be given a one-time sum of €200. Hartz IV payouts will be increased from €449 to €500 per month for a single childless recipient (Hartz IV itself will be replaced with a new system called Bürgergeld, or citizen’s money, from January 2023). Child benefit will also be raised by €18 per month from January and housing benefits will be expanded.

As well as providing relief, there are measures aimed at reducing high energy costs: a price cap will be imposed on energy producers who are not dependent on gas, while the government also indicated they would be prepared to skim off profits from some energy companies. A planned increase in the CO₂ emissions tax – a measure intended to address the climate crisis – will be postponed for one year.

Could the €9 ticket stay? Photo: IMAGO / Stefan Zeitz

Friday 2, September

On Friday, there were 1,106 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 207.3 cases per 100,000 people.

BVG claims no increase in ticket controls, €9 extension campaign, Police raid in Wedding

We all noticed it: while the €9 ticket was valid this summer, there were noticeably fewer ticket controls on public transport. That all came to an end yesterday, as the inspectors were back in force to catch anyone who had forgotten that the €9 summer was over. The BVG admitted to an increase in checks, but stated they were not to catch fare evaders, but rather to enforce mask compliance. Sure.

While we await a concrete replacement for the €9 ticket, some are taking things into their own hands. An initiative called 9 euro fonds have set up a fund in which members pay them  €9 per month, with that money being used to pay the fines of any member caught riding without a ticket. Being fined three times in a year can still (technically) land you in prison though.

Finally, the new EXB Wedding issue came out yesterday – but our launch party was interrupted when teams of armed police blocked off the street. This seems to have been due to a drive-by shooting in Wedding earlier on Thursday, which caused police to raid addresses on Wriezener Straße, Zingster Straße and Biesenthaler Straße.

New rules for e-scooters incoming! Photo: IMAGO / Panama Pictures

Thursday 1, September

On Thursday, there were 1,483 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 230.2 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin e-scooter users enjoy last days of reckless parking

Berlin is fed up with e-scooters. From today, ‘sharing providers’ in Berlin will need a permit and be required to pay a fee in order to use public roads – and stricter parking rules are incoming.

Soon, rental e-scooters and bicycles will need to be parked in designated parking spaces (rather than on the street, directly outside your front door, strewn across footpaths, up trees, etc). The rental companies will then be charged on a monthly basis for these parking spaces per square metre used. The actual drop-off points haven’t yet been established.

In order to combat the ‘Wildparken’ that has become so commonplace and annoying, some providers will require users to photograph their correctly parked ride in order to avoid a fine.

Berlin also has its own rental service: Jelbi, the mobility app of the Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (BVG), which they want to expand. It offers mopeds, scooters, bicycles, cars and vans… though, in classic Berlin style, no one has ever heard of it.

From September, everyone employed in Germany will get €300 with their salary. Photo: IMAGO / Fotostand

Wednesday 31, August

On Wednesday, there were 1,946 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 289.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Germany ends €9 ticket, starts €300 energy relief payout

Today marks the last day of the (hugely successful) €9 travel ticket scheme, with regular prices set to return across Germany’s public transport network from tomorrow. Berlin is planning a budget-friendly replacement of some kind from October, though details are yet to be announced. September 1 will also see the end of the other relief measure that came in this summer: the reduction of petrol prices, so costs at the pump are likely to rise.

But this doesn’t meant the end of all measures designed to combat rising energy costs. From September, everyone in Germany who is in employment and subject to income tax (including mini-jobbers and working students) will receive a €300 lump sum with their September salary. The €300 will then itself be taxed, meaning the exact amount each person receives may vary.

Lights have already been turned off at public building to conserve energy. Photo: IMAGO / epd

Tuesday 30, August

On Tuesday, there were 1,555 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 283.3 cases per 100,000 people.

After a hot summer, Berlin prepares for a cold, tense autumn

Whatever the actual temperature outside, Berlin is going to be a little bit colder this winter as the senate together with a number of business associations have agreed to save ten percent on energy due to rising gas and electricity costs. In public buildings, office temperature will be reduced to 20 degrees celsius, in corridors and stairwells just 16 degrees. Hot water will be turned off in secondary schools, administrative offices and universities. In swimming pools, the maximum temperature of the water will be limited to 26 degrees, while heating outdoor pools will be banned altogether. 

Rising energy prices and inflation may also have more dramatic effects, warns the Berlin Verfassungsschutz, the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic intelligence service. They expect the instability of the economic situation may lead to more protests, particularly from the extreme right, whose publications have increasing been calling for “putting the totalitarian party state in the crosshairs” or even “disposing of the system”. “We have to expect large scale demonstrations here in Berlin,” said state secretary Torsten Akmann (SPD). 

The 9 euro ticket will be replaced, but it might not cost 9 euro. Photo: IMAGO / Frank Sorge

Monday 29, August

On Monday, there were 2,232 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 282.9 cases per 100,000 people.

9 euro ticket will be replaced… but with what? And how to rebuild Berlin

With the 9 euro ticket set to expire on September 1, there are just three days left to enjoy Germany’s cheap summer of public transport. However, Berlin looks set to get some kind of replacement, even if the exact details are yet to be determined. On Friday, at a closed meeting of the Senate, Berlin’s SPD headed by mayor Franziska Giffey proposed the “radical solution” of extending the 9 euro scheme for the AB fare zone in Berlin through the months of October, November and December (in September, we’ll have to pay full price). However, Berlin’s transport senator Bettina Jarasch (Greens) wants to wait and see what measures come from the federal government before making any decision. There will be an “affordable and permanent” replacement, she promised, but added that it should include Brandenburg and it might not cost 9 euro. So it looks like something is coming, but no one really knows what. 

Also at the Senate, Berlin’s Building Director Petra Kahlfeld (Independent) has made a proposal to radically transform Berlin by turning motorway corridors into green spaces and housing, specifically mentioning parts of the A100 and A103 in Steglitz which could be deconstructed in an effort to claim back parts of the city which have been sacrificed to traffic. 

Could Berlin extend the 9 euro ticket till the end of the year? Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Held

Friday 26, August

On Friday, there were 2,070 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 251.6 cases per 100,000 people.

The Berlin SPD want to extend the 9-euro ticket to the end of the year

German chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) recently called the scheme “one of the best ideas we’ve had” – and most people living in Germany are inclined to agree. An overwhelming majority support extending the scheme, which has not only seen a 42 percent increase in rail travel but has also, according to researchers at the University of Potsdam, led to a 6 to 7 percent decrease in air pollution levels across Germany, particularly during the working week and in urban areas. Now (surprisingly, seeing as generally they are expert at doing the opposite of what everyone wants them to) the Berlin SPD will propose extending the scheme in Berlin until the end of the year. 

Their plan would only apply within the AB fare zone. After the year’s end, they hope the federal government would agree to help finance the project – something they would campaign for within the federal coalition. This proposal is so far the most radical within Germany’s ruling “traffic light” coalition: the Greens have proposed a 29-euro monthly ticket, while the furthest the CDU have gone is to call to for a ticket price freeze. 

Germany’s Health Minister Karl Lauterbach has announced new corona measures for the autumn and winter. Photo: IMAGO / epd

Thursday 25, August

On Thursday, there were 3,902 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 226.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Corona measures announced for autumn and winter; explosion in Gesundbrunnen

On Wednesday, Germany’s federal government announced what corona measures would apply through autumn and winter. The main news is that, while the mask requirement will remain on trains and aeroplanes, the individual states will be allowed to set their own rules for indoor events. Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach said on Wednesday that he expects a “significant” wave in autumn. If this does happen, the Berlin government might decide to impose minimum distance rules, a mask requirement for outdoor events or an upper attendance limit for indoor gatherings. These rules are expected to stay in place until April 7.

Last night in Gesundbrunnen, an explosion on top on a building caused a metre-high fireball to billow into the night sky when a burning roof set a tank of compressed gas on fire. Nobody was injured, the tenants had already been evacuated, but the sounds of the explosion could be heard as far away as Plötzensee and Pankow. After putting out the flames, the fire brigade used a drone to search the adjacent rooftops for debris.

Thousands of Berliners have fallen for a new telephone scam. Photo: IMAGO / Panthermedia

Wednesday 24, August

On Wednesday, there were 1,403 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 161.5 cases per 100,000 people.

Thousands of Berliners taken in by ‘Europol’ telephone scam

It begins with a call from a German number playing a recorded message that claims to be from Europol or Interpol. You’ll then be asked to press one for more information. Don’t do it. Berlin police advice is simply to end the call immediately. Thousands of Berliners have already been taken in by this scam – there have been around 4,300 reports of this type filed since March – and in 60 percent of cases the scammers were able to successfully steal money. The total damage in Berlin alone comes to about €320,000, with the individual amounts ranging from the high three-digit to the mid five-digit range.

For those that continue on the line, the scam plays out like this: they are transferred to a ‘Europol employee’ who tells them that their account has been blocked due to suspicious activity. In order to protect their funds, however, they should transfer some money abroad. What is unusual in this case, compared to other telephone scams, is that the target has not specifically been older people. Instead, tens of thousands of telephone numbers seem to have been dialled more or less at random. So maybe no one’s too clever to get ripped off.

Months without rain have dried out the grass at Tempelhofer Feld. Photo: IMAGO / A. Friedrichs

Tuesday 23, August

On Tuesday, there were 1,203 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 173.2 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin experiencing record-breaking drought, preparing for record-breaking rain

As things stand, this summer in Berlin will be the driest since weather records began back in 1908. The previous record drought was in 1911, when the official measuring station for Berlin – located out in Dahlem – recorded just 64 litres per square metre from early June to late August. A normal amount of rainfall would be about 200 litres per square metre. This summer is just 0.3 litres per square metre behind the previous record summer, however, so there’s a chance the grim milestone won’t be surpassed if rain falls as expected later this week.

Meanwhile, the months of drought can cause a problem you might not expect: flooding. When the ground dries out, it becomes less absorbent – meaning that heavy rains can easily cause significant damage when there is nowhere for the water to run off. In order to prepare for this, the Berliner Wasserbetriebe are working on a new overflow basin on Chausseestraße. This huge sink will be 40 metres in diameter, with steep concrete walls surrounded by loamy soil. It is actually being constructed right next to the imposing building of the Federal Intelligence Service, so perhaps Germany’s spies are just trying to protect all the dirt they’ve gathered on us.

Today is the beginning of the school year in Berlin. Photo: IMAGO / Stefan Zeitz

Monday 22, August

On Monday, there were 937 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 212.5 cases per 100,000 people.

The school year begins in Berlin, staff shortages are back

Today is the beginning of the school year in Berlin and, as students return to their classrooms, the ongoing problem of staff shortages also makes a comeback. There are more students currently at Berlin schools than ever before: this year will see 6,800 more pupils enrolled in education than in the previous year. But these increased numbers have not been met by a corresponding increase of staff. Berlin Education Minister Astrid-Sabine Busse (SPD) has estimated that of the 2,645 positions which needed to be filled, about 875 remain open. And there are other extraordinary circumstances, too. Like the previous two years, schools must face the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, on top of the extra challenges of saving energy in schools and incorporating students who’ve fled the war in Ukraine.

As things currently stand, there is no mask requirement in schools, though students and teachers may wear one voluntarily. 23,000 air filters have been fitted in Berlin schools (which would add up to one per classroom, statistically). Tests are not compulsory, but schools will have a supply in case students want to test themselves, and swimming and music lessons are no longer restricted.

12,000 Berliners were evacuated while police defused the bomb. Photo: IMAGO / Rene Traut

Friday 19, August

On Friday, there were 1,105 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 233.4 cases per 100,000 people.

500-kilo unexploded World War II bomb defused at Ostkreuz

At 00:15 this morning, the Berlin police reported that the situation was safe and 12,000 people, who had been evacuated the previous day, were allowed to return to their homes. On Thursday afternoon, during excavation work at a construction site in Friedrichshain, the 500-kilo bomb, undetonated since World War II. At first, Berlin police needed to assess whether the weapon could be removed and dealt with elsewhere, but this was deemed too dangerous. That was when the order was given to evacuate. Of the 12,000 people forced to leave their homes, most were able to stay with friends and relatives: about 80 people were accommodated in the Mercedes-Benz-Arena.

Defusing the bomb meant the removal of the two mechanical detonators, which were severed from the body of the weapon with a high-pressure water jet cutting machine and blown up on site. The remnants of the bomb were then taken to the Grunewald police detonation site – where one assumes they will be safe and not exposed to out-of-control wildfires or anything like that.

Why are there so many wasps? Photo: IMAGO / agrarmotive

Thursday 18, August

On Thursday, there were 1,565 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 256.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Why are there so many wasps? + Scholz under fire

Sit down for meal on a summer’s evening in Berlin this year and, before long, the flying black-and-yellow creatures start to arrive. Among the myriad problems brought about by Berlin’s particularly hot summer – the Grunewald fire, the dying trees, the parched grass – we seem to be facing an unusually high number of wasps buzzing about the city. NABU (Nature And Biodiversity Conservation Union) have reported about three times as many enquiries as usual about wasps. They believe a warm spring allowed an exceptionally high number of wasp queens to form their nests, and the broods are now at their peak. In September, the number will likely decrease as female workers stop producing offspring. In the meantime, the best method to prevent wasps massing is to keep away that first explorer: once word gets around you’ve got something good on your plate, you’re facing an uphill struggle to keep the insects away.

Meanwhile, Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz is under pressure after two separate embarrassing incidents. Firstly, he drew criticism for being too slow to condemn inflammatory remarks made by Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas at a press conference. Then, yesterday, he was barely audible over jeers and whistles when he attempted to address concerns over inflation, energy prices and school conditions at a town meeting in Neuruppin, Brandenburg. The German chancellor hinted that a new relief package was forthcoming: “More has to happen,” he said.

An industrial digger scoops fish carcasses out of the river Oder and loads them onto the back of a waiting truck. Photo: IMAGO / Eastnews

Wednesday 17, August

On Wednesday, there were 1,812 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 276.5 cases per 100,000 people.

Cause of massive fish death in the Oder remains unclear

Initially, the recent mass death of fish in the river Oder was thought to have been caused by mercury getting into the water. So far around 100 tonnes of dead fish have been removed from the river, which runs along the German-Polish border. However, test results back from the laboratory have left scientists searching for some other cause. What is clear is that compared to a sample from August 7, the oxygen content of the river, its pH value and its turbidity (how thick and cloudy the water is) have all gone up dramatically. High salt levels have also been detected. Meanwhile, the amount of Nitrate-Nitrogen has fallen.

Some researchers think the most likely cause is an outbreak of toxic algae, though the high level of salt remains puzzling, and there is a strong suspicion that some kind of toxic industrial discharge caused the chemical change. This toxicity has led to such massive death in the river that authorities are having a hard time collecting all the fish carcasses: oil barriers have been repurposed to collect dead fish in Germany, while in Poland, ice-breaking ships are washing fish carcasses back into the river, where they are collected with the help of oil booms, floating barriers which prevent the spread of toxic material.

350 passengers had to be evacuated from the S-Bahn at Friedrichstraße. Photo: IMAGO / Stefan Zeitz

Tuesday 16, August

On Tuesday, there were 2,875 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 293.1 cases per 100,000 people.

Train evacuation, brawl, energy prices: Berlin’s hot summer rolls on

About 350 passengers had to be evacuated from three S-Bahn trains yesterday evening after a breakdown left them stranded without air conditioning while temperatures outside were over 30 degrees. The incident occurred between Friedrichstraße and Hauptbahnhof stations and, after being stranded for more than an hour, the passengers were led across the tracks to safety. Two of the evacuated passengers were treated by medical staff after showing signs of circulatory collapse, which can follow heatstroke. Authorities also warned that a few passengers left the train before they were cleared to do so, which is extremely dangerous.

Meanwhile, there was *another* incident at an outdoor swimming pool. On Sunday evening at around 7pm, 50 people stormed the diving board at Olympiabad in Charlottenburg in what seems to have been a pre-planned “rampage”. Following this event, police were called and the pool was closed. This is the third such incident this summer, following bad-tempered brawls in Steglitz and Neukölln.

Finally, the cost for consumers of the incoming gas surcharge was announced yesterday. It will cost 2.419 cents per kilowatt hour. While this is not as expensive as some estimates feared, for a household with an annual consumption of 20,000 kilowatt hours, this would mean a charge of €576 per year.

How much more consumers will pay for Gas will be announced today. Photo: IMAGO / Panama Pictures

Monday 15, August

On Monday, there were 1,815 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 292.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Gas surcharge to start in October, cost for consumers will be announced today

We will find out the exact cost later today, but Economics Minister Robert Habeck (Greens) has estimated it at “several hundred euros per household” per year. This is the Gasumlage, or gas surcharge, a fee intended to mitigate the costs which some gas supplies incur when they need to replace cheap, Russian gas with a more expensive alternative. The levy will come into effect in October, though consumers should not expect to see the charge on their invoice for another four to six weeks, meaning sometime in November or December. Russia has been delivering less gas than usual since mid-June, driving up energy prices. German chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) has promised additional relief, though what form this will take exactly is still unclear.

Thousands of dead fish have washed up on the shores of the Oder. Photo: IMAGO / Eastnews

Friday 12, August

On Friday, there were 2,090 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 293.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Thousands of fish dead in Oder, massive quantities of mercury detected; Student held against his will found

Thousands of fish have been found dead in the Oder river which forms Germany’s border with Poland. Mercury has now been found in water samples.

The values detected in initial tests were so high that the actual concentration couldn’t be displayed; it was literally off the charts. Deputy head of Poland’s Environmental Protection Agency, Magda Gosk, said: “Everything indicates that the pollution of the Oder, which has led to the death of numerous fish, could be of industrial origin.” The authorities are now using drone to try to detect potential sources of pollution and where it entered the river.

According to the Brandenburg authorities, there is still no overall overview of the number of dead fish. The head of the Polish water authority, Przemyslaw Daca, said on Thursday that a total of ten tons of dead fish have been recovered. “This shows that we are dealing with a gigantic and appalling environmental catastrophe.”

Unlike the fish, the missing 22-year-old student, Timothy S. wasn’t found dead in a river, but was rather being held against his will in an apartment in Berlin. Police arrested a suspect at the scene after a week-long investigation. Timothy had been kidnapped on his way home from a bar in Neukölln.

An all too common site in Berlin. Photo: IMAGO / Seeliger

Thursday 11, August

On Thursday, there were 2,301 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 289.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Bike theft to be investigated as organised crime, Grunewald fire under control

Bike theft is a part of daily life in Berlin. It’s common knowledge that if you leave your bike left unlocked while you duck into the Späti, you run a serious risk of not seeing it again.

But even those who lock up their bikes aren’t safe. In the past six months bike thefts in Berlin have increased by 30 percent. This time last year there were 9,642 reported bicycle thefts, in comparison with 12,483 this year. In response, Berlin’s public prosecutor’s office has announced that it wants to implement the same methods the Police use to combat organised crime: stake outs, monitoring of telecommunications, GPS trackers installed in bicycles and harsher sentences for serial offenders.

For the past year, the Berlin interior administration estimates the theft damage at 22 million euros. This year, the damage is likely to be significantly higher, especially since the prices for bicycles have continued to rise and Berliners are opting for more expensive rides. The Berlin Police currently solve just 4.6 percent of bicycle theft cases.

Meanwhile, the Grunewald fire is out. Embers are still smouldering, but firefighters are reducing their presence and the Autobahn 115 (Avus) has been reopened.

Patricia Schlesinger is under fire. Photo: IMAGO / Photopress Müller

Wednesday 10, August

On Wednesday, there were 2,282 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 290.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin’s public broadcaster in trouble, massive expenses scandal

Ever wonder what they do with the Rundfunkbeitrag? Now we know.

The monthly fee of €18.36 that each household pays (regardless of whether they own a TV/radio or not) is apparently spent on a €303,000 annual salary for the RBB boss, and then misappropriated for loads of fancy stuff.

At the end of June it emerged that (now ex)RBB boss Patricia Schlesinger was not only taking home a five figure bonus on top of her unjustifiable salary, but that she had arranged a series of questionable consulting contracts for herself and a €100,000 consulting contract for her husband, Gerhard Spörl, with Messe Berlin, whose boss has since resigned. Allegedly she billed private dinners at her house as work expenses, and allowed her husband the use of her company car, chauffeur included, obviously.

The situation worsened in recent days though, when Bild and Business Insider published allegations that Schlesinger had spent €650,000 on renovating her office – including €7,500 for a self watering garden.

Brace yourself for right wing calls to dismantle public broadcasting entirely.

Tensions are high in Taiwan. Photo: IMAGO / NurPhoto

Monday 8, August

On Monday, there were 2,526 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 295.5 cases per 100,000 people.

FDP seek to make Taipei Berlin’s sister city; More explosions in Grunewald

Berlin’s FDP faction has proposed that Germany’s capital city become ‘twins’ with Taipei, in response to escalating tensions in the region – but the idea has been firmly rebuffed by the SPD and the Left parties.

Melanie Kühnemann-Grunow, responsible for ‘town twinning’ in the SPD parliamentary group, said: “As a free-democratic city, we stand by Taipei’s side”. However, in the current political situation, she considers the advance to be “highly dangerous”.

More locally, this continue to heat up in Grunewald, as further explosions overnight have led to further fires in the exclusion zone. Fires on the outskirts of the area were extinguished but the risk posed by the ordnance prevents the blaze from being completely extinguished. The A115 motorway (Avus) will remain closed for the time being.

Non-German may soon be able to vote in state elections. Photo: IMAGO / Emmanuele Contini

Monday 8, August

On Monday, there were 1,799 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 318.3 cases per 100,000 people.

Red-Red-Green coalition wants to allow non-Germans to vote

Good news for Berlin’s 700,000 expats: the government has decided it’s unfair to take your tax money and not listen to your opinion.

The SPD, Greens and Left parties have agreed to campaign for voting rights for non-Germans – at least at state level. The exact quote from the coalition agreement reads, “The coalition is committed to creating the federal legal prerequisites to enable people without German citizenship who have lived in the city for at least five years to have the right to vote at state and district level.”

Despite this, the coalition partners are not yet in complete agreement as to what requirements are necessary, despite the five-year stay specified in the contract. “It could also be a year, five or eight years,” commented SPD integration expert Orkan Özdemir.

Klara Schedlich (Greens) stated “All people who live in Berlin should be able to have a say. We have to find a solution that is as tolerant as possible.”

According to legal expert Sebastian Schlüsselburg, it’s unlikely that the German constitution will be reformed in such a way to allow this change, but the legislation may pass at state level.

Arial shot of the fire in Grunewald. Photo: IMAGO / Christian Ender

Friday 5, August

On Friday, there were 2,134 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 326.0 cases per 100,000 people.

Grunewald fire continues, Covid vaccine status invalid from October

The fire in Grunewald is still burning despite the efforts of firefighters through the night. Whilst parts of the blaze have been extinguished, the exclusion zone that was implemented yesterday remains in place.

Thomas Kirstein, spokesperson for the Berliner Fire Brigade told rbb24 that firefighters won’t be able to combat the blaze until the danger has been fully assessed by explosive experts.

Train lines in the area and the Avus Autobahn remain closed, but the Feuerwehr hopes that they can reopen later today.

“We were able to fight the forest fire within the restricted area well at night,” said Kirstein. But isolated embers and smaller fires are still burning. Emergency services managed to advance to within 500 metres of the munitions depot during the night. About 42 hectares are still affected.

According to Kirstein, no measures could be taken at the blast site itself, and we should expect more explosions. The fire brigade is now on the site with everything from tanks to robots. “Almost everything that is available in Germany in terms of technology,” is being used, according to Kirstein.

The exact cause of the fire is still unknown.

In other news, new Covid-19 rules will apply from October. If your third vaccination was more than three months ago, you will count as unvaccinated. If you want to go to the pub or cinema in autumn, you will have to wear a mask or get tested. Alternatively you could do the sensible thing and get a booster.

Mobile phone footage sent to RBB24. Source: twitter.com/rbb24

Thursday 4, August

On Thursday, there were 2,908 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 338.0 cases per 100,000 people.

Grunewald ablaze after explosion at ammunition depot

A large fire has broken out at the explosives range near Nikolassee in Grunewald forest, southwest of Berlin.

“The situation is unclear,” said a Berlin Feuerwehr spokesperson. Subsequent explosions have since been triggered by the fire and over 100 emergency service personnel are currently onsite. According to the spokesman, no one was injured by the initial explosion.

So far authorities are struggling to get a clear overview of the situation, but are assembling some facts with the help of drone and helicopter footage. On the ground, fire crews are being forced to keep a distance of one kilometre from the flames due to the threat of further explosions.

An area of 1.5 hectares has been affected and it is expected that it will take at least the entire day to put the fire out. The severe, persistent drought in the area will affect the further course of the fire, said a Berlin Feuerwehr spokesperson.

Residents of the area have been asked to keep doors and windows closed. The Avus Autobahn has been closed, and regional and S-Bahn services in the west have been disrupted.

Coal briquettes are being ordered in record numbers. Photo: IMAGO / Petra Schneider

Wednesday 3, August

On Wednesday, there were 2,379 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 334.1 cases per 100,000 people.

Demand for coal in Berlin highest since reunification

Gas prices have tripled in recent months, and Berliners are now turning to an old-school, environmentally woeful heating alternative. Coal.

Dickensian as it sounds, it’s true. According to the Sächsischen Brennstoff und Mineralölhandelsverband – which also represents companies in Berlin – sales have risen by almost 50 percent within a year, largely due to the war in Ukraine. Demand is currently outstripping supply, and no further briquettes are being delivered to the city as production in Lusatia, a coal-rich region on the German-Polish border, has ceased while repairs are carried out.

Normally almost 4,000 tons of fuel are sent to the rest of Germany from Lusatia every day. Thoralf Schirmer, spokesperson for the Czech company LEAG that produces the briquettes in Lusatia, says “There hasn’t been a demand like the one we’re experiencing now, at least since reunification.”

LEAG has been producing at the “absolute limit” since last October. Sorry, Greta.

A public toilet near Schlesi. Photo: IMAGO / Dirk Sattler

Tuesday 2, August

On Tuesday, there were 3,173 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 360.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin to get 50 free public toilets

In Berlin’s struggle to modernise and digitise, something surprising is leading the charge: public toilets. In a test phase starting in mid-August, the Senate will allow 50 facilities to be used free of charge. The remaining 228 will be accessible with card payment.

The Senate Environmental Administration announced on Monday that this new model – coming into effect in mid-August – is necessary due to the high number of burglaries. Since Wall GmbH began installing the public toilets in 2018, there have been a series of break-ins as people attempt to steal coins, resulting in a loss of income and extensive property damage.

These toilets have had mixed reviews though. Whilst they have meant that Berlin has more public toilets than ever before, 433 to be precise, Wall GmbH has been criticised because men are allowed to pee for free in the pissoirs, whilst women must pay. This was intended to prevent Wildpinkeln, but is really pretty unfair when you think about it.

Berlin made plans back in May for more free, all-gender-appropriate toilets in public spaces. The House of Representatives provided €2.6 million for 24 ‘self sufficient’ women’s toilets in Berlin parks, but so far not much has come of it.

Will there be a cheap public transport ticket in September? Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Held

Monday 1, August

On Monday, there were 1,978 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 391.4 cases per 100,000 people.

€9 ticket debate continues

The debate rages on. Though FDP boss and Federal Minister of Finance Christian Lindner recently ruled out financing a follow-up solution to the €9 ticket in an interview with the Berliner Morgenpost, pressure is now coming from their coalition partners; the Greens want the program to continue.

Bundestag Greens leader Katharina Dröge is pushing for a solution beyond August. “We need a nationwide, inexpensive local transport ticket. The decision is now possible and necessary,” Dröge told the Morgenpost, describing the €9 ticket as a “real hit and a complete success.”

The Greens want to finance a cheap ticket by removing or reducing the tax deductibility of company cars. “Such a public transport ticket can be financed by eliminating the so-called company car privilege. That would be positive for climate protection and justice in two senses,” said Dröge.

The SPD has already spoken out in favour of continuing a cheap public transport ticket, they’ve just been a bit more quiet about it. They are currently in favour of a €365 annual ticket – one euro a day for the whole year – pointing to the success of a similar policy adopted in Vienna in 2012.

And don’t forget, today is August 1st, so buy your new ticket!

Public transport has been very busy since the €9 ticket began. Photo: IMAGO / Jochen Eckel

Friday 29, July

On Friday, there were 2,697 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 409.8 cases per 100,000 people.

€9 ticket to become €29 ticket?

Even without knowing the statistics, we can all see it. The €9 ticket was a success. The buses and trains have been full since the programme began in June, and there are fewer cars on the road.

Clearly the public is happy to use Öffis, if it’s affordable. For this reason, Germany’s top consumer advocate, Ramona Pop is campaigning for an extension.

“We demand a continuation with a €29 ticket from September,” said the new board member of the Federal Association of Consumer Centers (vzbv) adding “We have to promote the switch to public transport. If you are serious about the switch, you have to spend money on it.”

The €9 ticket, which finishes at the end of August, costs the federal government €2.5 billion in tax money, compared to the €3 billion price tag for the petrol discount.

Everything is (no longer) illuminated. Photo: IMAGO / Sabine Gudath

Thursday 28, July

On Thursday, there were 3,057 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 412.1 cases per 100,000 people.

Lights out for public buildings

In order to save energy, the Siegessäule, Berliner Dom, Brandenburger Tor, Gedächtniskirche, the Senate building and nearly 200 other bridges, churches and public buildings will no longer be illuminated in the evenings.“

In light of the war against Ukraine and Russia’s energy policy threats, it’s important that we use our energy as carefully as possible. This also and especially applies to the public sector,” says Senator Bettina Jarasch (Greens) adding “That’s why we will no longer illuminate the buildings in Berlin that are our responsibility. From our point of view, that is justifiable in this situation, also in order to make a visible contribution.” Ah yes, the all important optics of the situation.

This stunt will save the taxpayer around €40,000 per year, and the environment around 200,000 kilowatt hours of fossil fuel energy, according to the Senate Department for the Environment, Mobility, Consumer and Climate Protection.

The welcome centre at Tegel. Photo: IMAGO / Jens Schicke

Wednesday 27, July

On Tuesday, there were 3,620 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 418.0 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin running out of space to house Ukrainian refugees

Integration senator Katja Kipping (die Linke) has urged her colleagues to implement emergency measures in order to provide Ukrainian refugees in Berlin with accommodation. The already precarious situation has worsened in recent days, and Kipping is now recommending that a large tent with room for over 900 people be opened at the Tegel arrival centre.

Berlin is struggling to cope with the influx of refugees as almost all other federal states have dropped out of the nationwide distribution system. “There is actually an admission freeze for people who apply for asylum for the first time,” said Kipping.

So far over 915,000 Ukrainian refugees have arrived in Germany, the third highest number of any country behind Poland and Russia.

In the meantime, renting rooms in hostels and setting up additional tents will also be examined as potential solutions.

Berlin pools may no longer be heated to save gas. Photo: IMAGO / Emmanuele Contini

Tuesday 26, July

On Tuesday, there were 3,866 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 415.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Schloss Bellevue goes dark; No more heated pools?

With an energy shortage looming, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has decided to set a good example when it comes to saving electricity. His official residence in Berlin, Schloss Bellevue, is no longer illuminated at night.

Drastic energy-saving measures are also being discussed elsewhere. The general manager of the Berlin Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK), Jan Eder, told RBB Inforadio on Monday “We should actually close the swimming pools and tell people: You have to jump into the lake now to save gas.” Criticism from the AfD, FDP, SPD, die Linke and the CDU was swift and harsh, with Christian Wolf, energy spokesperson of the FDP parliamentary group, stating that school swimming and club sports must remain open, “because you can’t just jump into the lake in autumn and winter.”

This follows news that Russian gas company Gazprom has reduced its supply to Europe through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to 20 percent. There’s probably not enough time to go green before winter, so buy coats and firewood now.

A historic occasion; the pride flag flew for the first time over the Bundestag on Saturyday. Photo: IMAGO / A. Friedrichs

Monday 25, July

On Monday, there were 2,449 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 430.4 cases per 100,000 people.

CSD resounding success, Pride flag flown over Bundestag for first time

CSD organisers have reported that at least 600,000 people took part in the annual Christopher Street Day parade and celebrations this year on Saturday, July 23.

“We are many and we are loud. And we won’t be silenced. We stand up for our rights,” said CSD spokesperson Sandrina Koemm-Benson to the Deutsche Presse Agentur.

This year marked the first time that the rainbow gay pride flag was flown over the Bundestag.Berlin CSD is one of the largest events on the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex calendar. On Saturday, hundreds of thousands took part in a colourful parade through several Berlin districts, ending in a party at the Brandenburg Gate.

Though the organisers estimated the number of participants at a total of 600,000, Berlin police initially reported 150,000 participants but later updated their figure to 350,000.

Verdi calls for airport strike on Wednesday

Travelling through BER just got more stressful, as Verdi, the United Services Trade Union, has called for Lufthansa ground staff to take part in industrial action to assist with ongoing wage negotiations.

The warning strike is set to begin on Wednesday, and will last the entire day at all Lufthansa locations. Currently more than 20,000 employees are engaged in negotiations, and are now escalating their efforts after receiving a less than satisfactory offer on July 13 from Lufthansa management.

So anyone flying between 3:45am on Wednesday and 6:00am on Thursday better get there, 24 hours early?

Police body cams are going to become more common. Photo: IMAGO / Michael Kristen

Friday 22, July

On Friday, there were 2,850 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 445.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Police union want body cams across the board

The Police Union (GdP), wants to immediately end the body cam test phase and make them available to all emergency services. There are currently 20 body cams in use in Berlin, all of them in the southern Kreuzberg district. These 20 cameras were activated 101 times during the test phase, beginning last year and running up to the end of June this year.

This high level of utilisation prompted national head of the GdP Stephan Weh to plead for immediate, nationwide implementation of body cams “to protect our colleagues from violent attacks.”

Weh continued, stating that “It is still inexplicable why Berlin’s state policy ignores years of experience in other federal states and with the federal police and is delaying this decision with a test run as long as possible.”

Hopefully, the safety of citizens also becomes a concern at some point. 

No longer in the top ten 🙁 . Photo: IMAGO / Votos-Roland Owsnitzki

Thursday 21, July

On Thursday, there were 3,514 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 468.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Berghain no longer top ten

Partygoers all know the feeling: the lights come on, the music turns off, its time to face reality. Anyone who’s experienced this sort of comedown can spare a thought for Berghain today, as its lost its place as a top 10 club worldwide. The list is voted democratically, the result of hundreds of thousands of clubbers voting on their favourite places to go out.

Two other Berlin clubs feature in the top 100: Watergate at 35 and Tresor at 50. Cologne club ‘Bootshaus’ has once again placed higher than Berghain, maintaining its number five spot, whilst Berghain has sunk from six to twelve.

USA had the most entries in the list, 16, ousting the UK as the best club ‘country’ with 12 in England, two in Scotland. The number one club is the world is Hï Ibiza in Spain.

Kids playing at Colombiabad. Photo: IMAGO / Christian Schroth

Wednesday 20, July

On Wednesday, there were 3,347 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 482.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Poolside brawl at Colombiabad ends in teargas; the end of Berlkönig

Another pool fight? After a couple of brawls over the last months in Berlin’s outdoor pools, yesterday saw eleven people injured, three of whom were taken to hospital, as a fight broke out in Colombiabad. Tear gas was even deployed. The argument broke out after guests were expelled from the pool due to their behaviour. They initially complied with the request, but later returned and a fight broke out which resulted in one or other of the parties using the toxic gas.

Berlin Bäderbetrieb spokesperson Matthias Oloew sounded pretty chilled about it all. These fights, he said, are just “a small part of outdoor pool life”. So that’s fine, then.

Meanwhile, the BVG shuttle bus service Berlkönig will shut down today, to be replaced by the “Rufbus 2.0” project. The new project will be smaller in scale, limiting itself to areas in Berlin’s east: namely Lichtenberg, Marzahn-Hellersdorf and Treptow-Köpenick. The Berlin Senate won’t give an exact expected starting date, but have vaguely referred to this coming autumn.

Too hot for this heckin’ good boy. Photo: IMAGO / ZUMA Wire

Tuesday 19, July

On Tuesday, there were 4,530 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 493.8 cases per 100,000 people.

The big heatwave is here: what should you know?

France is on fire; Portugal’ s burning; London’s melting. In Berlin, we’re just getting started with the extreme heatwave that will see most of Western Europe record their hottest ever days in this coming week. The German Weather Service has issued an official heat warning from this morning until Wednesday evening. So what should you know?

  • Stay hydrated. It is necessary to drink up to three litres of water on hot days like these.
  • Feel like cracking a window? Don’t. It’s better to cover them. This will keep the temperature inside cooler in the long term. Another trick is to keep a frozen bottle of water in your room, as this helps lower the temperature of the air.
  • Suncream, shade, clothing, sunglasses are your friends. UV waves are powerful! Avoid going outside when the sun is at its strongest and cover up. Consider sunglasses, too – you eyes are much more sensitive to UV than you realise.
  • Know the dangerous symptoms. Sunburn, headaches and sunstroke are the greatest dangers. They can even be deadly if you have pre-existing conditions like high blood pressure or heart problems.
  • Swimming feels nice but it doesn’t actually provide any UV protection. You can get burned after five or ten minutes. Remember to reapply sunscreen after swimming.
How will you escape the heat this week? Photo: IMAGO / snapshot

Monday 18, July

On Monday, there were 3,325 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 507.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Heatwave “Jürgen” comes to Berlin; Schöneberg introduces protection for the homeless

Temperatures will rise steadily in Berlin over the next few days, hitting a high of 38 degrees on Wednesday, before rain is finally expected this Thursday. Just as thunderstorms and hurricanes are given names, so are periods of unusually high pressure, meaning Berliners can thank “Jürgen” for this period of extreme weather, which has spread across Western Europe in the last few days and is now hitting the German capital. Temperatures are likely to climb to 30 degrees today, ascend to 36 tomorrow, before maxing out at a scorching 38 on Wednesday, before clouds form and rain cools things down again on Thursday.

In Schöneberg, the city will introduce a special heat protection scheme for the homeless. On Kurmärkische Straße, a space will be set up to offer showers, food and drink to homeless Berliners who want a place to cool off. Sunscreen and hats will also be distributed.

Stay cool this week, any way you can. Photo: IMAGO / snapshot

Friday July, 15

On Friday, there were 3,897 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 506.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Super-heatwave off; it will just be very very hot

Next week’s super-heatwave has been cancelled due to a miscalculation. However, it will still be scorching, after a rather moderately warm weekend, temperatures will rise from Sunday. “We’re talking about 30 degrees and more,” says ARD weather expert Roland Vögtlin.

The assumptions of intense heat ave were based on a calculation error in the American weather forecast model Global Forecast System (GFS). The model incorrectly assumed a zero percent soil moisture content, but, “In reality, the soil moisture is not zero percent here, even when it is dry, but always at least two to three percent.”

The warm weather should persist until the weekend after next. Rain is needed urgently, but there’s none scheduled and while temperatures won’t be as extreme as initially predicted, it may still be dangerous for vulnerable people like the elderly.

The safety of some Tesla vehicles is questionable. Photo: IMAGO / KS-Images.de

Thursday July, 14

On Thursday, there were 4,131 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 486.3 cases per 100,000 people.

Tesla to sell cars made before factory approval

Tesla is set to sell cars built during the test phase of the factory in Grünheide which were only supposed to be used only for internal purposes or scrapped. When these vehicles were built, it was understood by all parties that they would never be sold to consumers, but Musk’s lawyers are now arguing that the permission they’ve now been given to go into production retroactively grants Tesla the right to sell the test chassis.

Exactly how many cars were manufactured in total during this test phase in unclear: Tesla are refusing to announce the figure. This news comes of the heels of the announcement that that Grünheide plant would cease production for three weeks to “improve processes” and Musk’s comments some weeks back that the Berlin factory was a “giant money furnace”.

How many of them are down there? Photo: IMAGO / blickwinkel

Wednesday 13, July

On Wednesday, there were 3,713 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 487.3 cases per 100,000 people.

Man-sized catfish are swimming in Berlin lakes

Each summer, you hear the rumours of man-sized catfish swimming in Berlin’s lakes, but it’s often dismissed as a myth, or evidence of a slow news day. But now we’ve got evidence. The carcass of a 1.7 meter catfish was recovered from Tegeler See last week, discovered by two rowers who were alerted by the strong smell of its decomposition. 1.7 meters (about as tall as Diego Maradona) is not even considered large, animals that big can be found in Krumme Lanke or Nikolassee. Bathers are occasionally touched by the animals, but they aren’t considered dangerous to humans, even if they can exhibit territorial behaviour. Catfish might occasionally eat ducklings swimming near the shore, but their main diet is the dead fish which accumulate at the bottom of the lake, meaning the animals actually improve the condition of the water. Still, you might not want to see one.

Up to 300 suitcases are left being forward on from BER each day. Photo: IMAGO / Achille Abboud

Tuesday 12, July

On Tuesday, there were 4,860 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 504.0 cases per 100,000 people.

Staff shortages mean 300 suitcases are left behind at BER airport each day

Head to BER airport and in an empty, fenced off space between the terminals, you can see the luggage piling up. Hundreds of suitcases are being left behind, as staff shortages mean passengers are unable to collect their luggage when they get off the plane.

But this isn’t just an issue at BER. Many of the bags are themselves forwarded from other airports which have been badly affected by the ongoing staff shortages, with Munich and Frankfurt airports experiencing similar issues.

The problem has gotten so bad that 300 items of luggage are forwarded on to their owners each day, and new interim spaces in BER are being opened up to temporarily hold the items. The problem is compounded by the start of summer holidays. If you’re going abroad, it looks like you should take carry-on luggage whenever possible.

Not even party members are safe from KO drops. Photo: IMAGO / Manfred Segerer

Monday July, 11

On Monday, there were 3,029 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 520.1 cases per 100,000 people.

Police investigate drugging at SPD party; Love Parade a raving success

Police are investigating after eight people were drugged at a Hoffest party organised by the SPD last Wednesday. According to an internal SPD chat provided to the Tagespielgel, there were “Eight people affected, one case confirmed by a test.” 

The cause of the drugging is assumed to be so-called knockout drops, which were presumably slipped into the drinks of people in attendance. One victim, a 21-year-old woman who drank no alcohol at the event, reported feeling dizzy following and unwell after returning home and woke up the next morning with no memory of the event. 

About 1,000 people attended the event organised by the parliamentary party, including German chancellor Olaf Scholz.

Meanwhile, the Love Parade returned to Berlin on Saturday under its new name of Rave the Planet. Attended by 200,000 people,  it seems to have been a success. Its founder Dr Motte has already declared his intention to host the party again in 2023, but honestly we are too hung over to be thinking about that yet. 

Unexploded ordenance is making fighting this fire extremely difficult. IMAGO / Andre März

Friday July, 8

On Thursday, there were 3,501 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 511.0 cases per 100,000 people.

Rain fails to extinguish Brandenburg wildfire in forest littered with live ammunition

Emergency services had hoped that the rain this week would be sufficient to put out the fire that has been burning in Brandenburg since Monday. An area of ​​86 hectares is  affected by the blaze and it is anticipated that the 260 additional personnel called in to Lieberoser Heide will need to stay until Sunday.

The area is an ex-military training ground littered with live munition – there are  reportedly around two rockets or tank shells per square metre – meaning Emergency services can’t access much of the area. Instead, firefighters have resorted to hunting spot fires with infrared cameras on drones and helicopters.

Despite this high-tech approach, it is proving difficult to extinguish fires from the air. District Fire Chief Christian Liebe reports that he and his team don’t have access to enough water, a consequence of the protracted drought.

Expect long lines at BER these holidays. IMAGO / Frank Sorge

Thursday July, 7

On Thursday, there were 4,499 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 537.4 cases per 100,000 people.

School holidays begin, crisis ensues

Not that you would know it, judging by the weather, but the summer holidays begin today, and BER is already straining to cope with the crowds. The operators of BER expect around three million passengers over the course of the season. The busiest day should be next Friday – “we expect around 80,000 passengers,” said airport boss Aletta von Massenbach.

The root cause of the lines and delays is exactly what you think it is. Too many staff were cut during the pandemic, according to the Pilot’s Association board member Matthias Baier, adding that “We need buffers in the system… People have become rigid and accustomed to quick solutions, which in the end led to the fact that we now have too few staff…There has to be a long-term change that will bring the system back to its old stability”. No kidding. 

In the meantime, you are advised to arrive at least two and a half hours before your flight, and maybe even take advantage of Easyjet, Lufthansa and Eurowings’ offer to drop off your baggage the evening before your departure. 

The new “pattern of diversity” design for the BVG. Photo: BVG

Wednesday July, 6

On Wednesday, there were 5,219 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 507.2 cases per 100,000 people.

Goodbye Urban Jungle: The BVG gets a new look

The Berliner Verkehrsbetrieb (BVG) has announced a new design for its seats. The colourful design with red, yellow and blue tones will be phased in gradually, replacing the old design.  The new design bears some resemblance to the old, beloved pattern, though here the previously abstract shapes are formed from a total of 80 different silhouettes, intended to symbolise the diversity of both Berlin and the BVG itself. Christine Wolburg, Head of Sales and Marketing also calls the future design a “pattern of diversity”.

Litigation was the impetus to develop a new pattern, as the designer of the “Urban Jungle” pattern and the BVG ended up in court over a copyright dispute. It was decided in Hamburg district court that the pattern could remain in vehicles, but the BVG could not sell merchandise with the “Urban Jungle” design – the BVG had released a popular line of products including shoes in collaboration with Adidas which bore the pattern. Both parties are appealing the verdict.

Berliners don’t seem to be taking water safety seriously. IMAGO / Stefan Zeitz

Tuesday July, 5

On Tuesday, there were 5,211 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 491.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Fourth Berliner drowns within two weeks

A thirty year old man drowned at Schlachtensee over the weekend, the fourth such case in Berlin this year. “All accidents happened at unpatrolled bathing spots,” says German Lifesaving Association (DLRG) rescue diver Christopher Wellner, adding that most drownings are men and that alcohol and an overestimation of ones capability usually plays a role. He warned that the 20 degree difference between body and water temperature can overwhelm swimmers circulation, while his colleague, Daniel Kiep – with a very German sense of… let’s say humour – added  “He who jumps from a bridge must be very tired of living”.This latest incident comes after two men drowned in Weißensee in Pankow last month, as well as a third man in Flughafensee. It’s still unclear if the corpse found in Tegel is that of a man who went missing whilst swimming in the Spree two weeks ago.

German authorities learned the value of English after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Photo: IMAGO / BildFunkMV

Monday July, 4

On Monday, there were 2,817 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 472.9 cases per 100,000 people.

German bureaucrats to speak English, online Anmeldung coming this year

In a ten point plan to counteract the shortage of skilled workers and make life easier for migrants, the FDP is officially recommending that German bureaucrats add English as an administrative language across German government institutions. “Language is the key to successful integration,” states the paper, drawn up by Federal Education Minister Bettina Stark-Watzinger (FDP) and party Vice-President Johannes Vogel (FDP).It also calls for the expansion of the Blue Card (the document which non-EU citizens to work in Germany) to cover those with non-academic qualifications, as well as improved German language support for skilled workers and their families.

What’s more the ability to do both your Anmeldung and Ummeldung should be available at some point this year, according to State Secretary for Administrative Modernization, Ralf Kleindiek. He told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur “We are currently working on about 35 more for this year and at least the same number will follow next year”. Exciting? Yes. Believable? Absolutely not.

The 9€ ticket is valid nationwide, but apparently some people missed the memo. Phoo: IMAGO / Manfred Segerer

Friday July, 1

On Friday, there were 4,782 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 472.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Thousands bought the normal Monatskarte instead of €9 ticket

Upsala! The BVG reports that thousands of Berliners bought the regular Monatskarte last month instead of the widely promoted €9 ticket. According to BVG spokesman Jannes Schwentu, monthly tickets have been sold “in the mid four-digit range” since the beginning of June. Apparently, the BVG can’t say exactly how many commuters have unwittingly fallen into the tariff trap. According Schwentu, it was not technically feasible to deactivate the sale of regular tickets. “That’s why we clearly indicate the offer on the homepage,” he says. For comparison: a monthly ticket for the AB tariff area costs €86, for the ABC area €107. A day ticket for the AB area costs €8.80.

As today is the beginning of July, we would like to remind you that you need to buy a new €9 ticket.

More bad behaviour from Berlin’s start-up scene. IMAGO / photosteinmaurer.com

Thursday June, 30

On Thursday, there were 3,431 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 423.2 cases per 100,000 people.

Lieferando throws a pool party, doesn’t invite riders

The summer party is a staple of German work culture, and a great way to boost team morale. That is, if you are on the guest list. Food delivery service Lieferando explicitly did not invite the thousands of riders that work for them to their party on July 1 at Haubentaucher in the RAW-Gelände. “What are the key ingredients for a proper day club party? Food, drinks and an exclusive pool just for you” read the invitation, apparently not seeing the irony. In response, riders, led by the Lieferando Workers Collective have taken to social media to organise a protest, set to take place at the door of Haubentaucher while the party is underway. The collective published the invitation in full, where one can read at the bottom: “Only Lieferando employees (from Germany & Austria, with the exception of drivers and temporary workers) are invited to the event.” Riders weren’t really surprised, as in February 2022 the company financed a trip to a Swiss ski resort for 5,400 office employees at a cost of €15 million.

Wednesday June, 29

On Wednesday, there were 3,193 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 429.5 cases per 100,000 people.

New Covid rules planned for autumn, monkeypox vaccine arrives

Covid numbers are rising, prompting a new autumn/winter strategy against the virus from the Berlin senate. Wearing a mask may again become necessary indoors, with mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) encouraging Berliners to get a fourth vaccine and earmarking €4.5 million for the new campaign. Health Senator Ulrike Gote (Greens) fears that a new, deadlier variant may arise, and sees the end of federal funding for a Schnelltest as a mistake. From July 1, a test will cost €3 at the city’s test centres. Whilst the Berlin Senate is calling for funding to continue, Giffey is also optimistic, pointing out that 93 percent of Berliners have some form of immunity, through being vaccinated or having already recovered from the virus.

In other viral news, more than 550 cases of monkeypox have been recorded in Berlin, which is roughly 30 to 50 cases per day. A vaccine campaign is now underway, but Health Senator Gote thinks the plan to initially deliver the vaccine to HIV specialist practices, Charité and the Clinic for Infectious Diseases at the St. Joseph Hospital in Tempelhof, isn’t extensive enough. A larger vaccine delivery is expected from the second half of July.

Last call in Berlin’s parks? IMAGO / Emmanuele Contini

Tuesday June, 28

On Tuesday, there were 4,181 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 430.5 cases per 100,000 people.

Alcohol ban in Berlin parks?

Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) is considering an alcohol ban in Berlin’s parks following a spate of incidents in recent weeks. The Senate Department for the Interior also proposes fencing and closing parks to improve security after a number of robberies and fights in public parks. “We are already developing solutions with the districts in a joint task force,” said Spranger on Monday. The goal is a “uniform concept to get crime under control…from a certain point in time, an alcohol ban must also be imposed,” she said, adding that it may be deemed necessary to fence off parks. “If there are no other options, you also have to think about closing parks at a certain point in time.” A task force with representatives from Berlin’s districts was created on Spranger’s initiative and met for the first time last week, but no concrete decision was reached.

Monday June, 27

On Monday, there were 3,122 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 434.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Rain, hail and shine: Berlin expecting storms

The German Weather Service has issued a heat warning for Monday, June 27. Berlin and Brandenburg can expect sweltering temperatures of up to 36 degrees today, followed by storms, winds of up to 100 km/h and even hail in the early afternoon. By the evening, temperatures should drop to between 15 and 19 degrees. The heatwave isn’t over though. Despite a day’s respite on Tuesday, heavy showers and thunderstorms are expected again on Wednesday, with the mercury rising to highs of between 27 and 32 degrees.

Things are also heating up in response to the G7 summit, currently being held in Bavaria, with climate activist group Letzte Generation blocking the entrance to the Federal Finance Ministry in Berlin to coincide with the event. Police report that around 40 activists are demonstrating against climate inaction, and that several have superglued themselves to the pavement in front of the building. “Like many other countries in the Global North, Germany has a historical responsibility for the climate crisis… and as one of the G7 countries it also has an enormous influence on general world politics” said activist Kim Weier.

Berlin’s streets are being taken over by e-scooters. Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Ritter

Friday June, 24

On Friday, there were 2,885 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 434.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Blind association demands removal of e-scooters from Berlin

The General Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ABSV), together with an alliance of citizens’ groups, are demanding that e-scooters be removed from Berlin’s streets, as many visually impaired Berliners have been injured trying to negotiate blocked footpaths. Berlin’s Senate has already sought to install e-scooter parking stations in disused car parks, but as with all Berlin bureaucracy, progress has been too slow. “If things continue like this, it will be at least 15 years before we have enough parking space for e-scooters,” says Roland Stimpel of the German Pedestrian Association, adding that the Senate must decide whether the “fun and profit-driven desires of e-scooter users and rental companies” are more important than the safety of Berliners. But even this may not be enough, as Verena Staats, Managing Director of the ABSV, explains “as long as there is still no obligation to only use designated parking spaces… the danger for blind and visually impaired people, but also for people with walking disabilities and wheelchair users, will continue to exist… We are examining whether we can take action against the Senate by means of a class action lawsuit”.

Supply chain issues are giving Musk a headache Photo: IMAGO / Xinhua

Thursday June, 23

On Thursday, there were 3,786 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 403.3 cases per 100,000 people.

Tesla factories are burning billions of dollars

In his latest dramatic statement, Elon Musk has described how Tesla factories are losing billions of dollars, declaring that “both Berlin and Austin factories are gigantic money furnaces right now.” The comment was made in an interview with the Tesla Owners of Silicon Valley fan club last month. Whilst the Berlin factory is in a better position than its Texan counterpart, Musk has blamed supply chain issues and lockdowns in China which lead to the closure of several ports. “It’s really like a giant roar, that sound of money on fire” he added, saying that “it is a matter of keeping the company running so that the employees continue to be paid and the group does not go bankrupt.” The interview, which was given on May 31, was only made public yesterday. Since then, the Shanghai factory that was locked down, causing the major disruption, has managed to triple production.In other Musk-related news, the Berlin Police have banned their officers from driving Teslas to work, fearing that the vehicles’ advanced technology and sensors pose a security risk, and could be used to hack the computer network. This is according to a leaked internal memo, reports Berliner Zeitung.

The Gigafactory at Grünheide outside Berlin. Photo: IMAGO / Jochen Eckel

Wednesday 22, June

On Wednesday, there were 3,275 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 357.5 cases per 100,000 people.

Who has the right to water?

After the wildfires in Brandenburg last weekend, water supply is again in the news. A report from CORRECTIV.Lokal has shown that the number of court cases relating to water supply has risen in recent years, and is expected to increase further. The case of the Tesla factory in Grünheide is a good example.

Two environmental groups, Grüne Liga and the Naturschutzbund Deutschland, sued the State Environment Agency to prevent the Gigafactory from pumping water from Eggersdorf which they claim is sorely needed by locals and farmers. Their claim was upheld, but only partially, due to lack of public participation in the decision-making process. Once that formality was resolved, Tesla could begin production. The environmental groups are now appealing the claim in a higher court. Katharina Huth from CORRECTIV.Lokal said: “It’s about the very fundamental question: Who actually has priority? Who has the first right to water?”

Climate activists aren’t the only ones disgruntled with Musk, as he announced that he would be laying off 10 percent of the Tesla workforce worldwide due to inflation and market forces. Employees at the Grünheide Tesla plant won’t be affected by the cuts, but many do appear to be dissatisfied with their remuneration. The IG Metall trade union has reported that new hires are earning more than older employees, causing many to quit.

Franziska Giffey has long been against the socialisation of Berlin housing. Photo: IMAGO / IPON

Tuesday 21, June

On Tuesday, there were 4,330 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 334.1 cases per 100,000 people.

SPD move left on A100 and expropriation; brawl at Sommerbad Insulaner

The Berlin SPD held their state party conference in Neukölln on Sunday and there was a distinct change of course for two key issues affecting Berlin. The party voted with a 65% majority to abandon the 17th construction phase of the A100 motorway expansion, bringing the project to a close. This was a U-turn for the party, who have long advocated for the extension of the project. Another surprise move came with the vote on expropriation. The Berlin SPD decided that – were the expropriation commission to recommend the socialisation of housing – they would implement an expropriation law as quickly as possible. This was a direct contradiction of the position of Berlin mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD), who has long been against the reform. It was also decided that the commission should present its results in the spring of 2023.

Also on Sunday, a massive brawl involving around 100 people broke out at an outdoor swimming pool in Berlin Stieglitz. 13 police vehicles responded to the scene, which was captured on social media. Police are investigating four suspects, and two people reported light injuries from a someone armed with a knife.

Fire engines and helicopters attempt to tackle forest fires in Brandenburg. Photo: IMAGO / Arnulf Hettrich

Monday 20, June

On Monday, there were 2,565 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 309.2 cases per 100,000 people.

Brandenburg burns; wildfires break out in Beelitz and Treuenbrietzen

Fires broke out yesterday afternoon around Beelitz, the town in Brandenburg famous for its asparagus. The extremely warm weather over the weekend saw the fire spread rapidly, setting entire pine trees ablaze, and spread to an area of over 200 hectares by the early evening. As a result, several streets in the town needed to be evacuated – though the fires are now understood to be under control and will be further relieved by today’s rainfall.

The Beelitz blaze was not the only wildfire which broke out however – three further towns were fully evacuated when the forests around Treuenbrietzen also caught fire, with this separate blaze covering an area larger than 280 football pitches. Authorities were particularly concerned about this fire since the forests were previously used as a military training area and contain unexploded ammunition. Reportedly, smoke could be smelled in the air as far away as Dresden.

Barbecuing is prohibited due to lack of rain. Photo: IMAGO / Müller-Stauffenberg

Friday 17, June

On Friday, there were 2,033 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 288.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Hot weather in Berlin means BBQ ban in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg

There’s a drought in Berlin and we’re bracing for a minor heatwave, with temperatures expected to reach 33 and 34 degrees this weekend. Accordingly, the Berlin district of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg has banned barbecuing in its parks and green spaces until further notice. The only place excluded from the ban is the Neuer Hain area of Volkspark Friedrichshain, where grilling is permitted due to its being privately supervised – though Berliners must book a barbecue spot online. The drought has also seen a general smoking and barbecue ban applied to all Berlin forests, with motorists also advised to avoid parking their cars in dry areas. Berlin experienced an usually dry spring – and temperatures in May and June have been well above the norm. As in previous years, the Black Elster river (Schwarze Elster) in Brandenburg has completely dried up along many stretches.

Summer is heating up and COVID cases are rising. Photo: IMAGO / Sven Simon

Thursday 16, June 

On Thursday, there were 2,000 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 281.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Corona summer wave arrives: Here’s what you need to know

What is going on with Corona? I thought it was over?

Cases are going up, not down.

So what’s the deal then?

Experts are calling it a “summer wave”. 

Is this a new variant?

Yes. This year has mostly been Omicron 2, but now Omicron 4 and 5 are here. They are more infectious than 2, but how deadly they are isn’t yet known. 

Where is it coming from?

Experts think Portugal. They are already having their summer wave and it is expected the same thing will happen here in a few weeks. 

Should I get a booster?

It’s not officially recommended, but Karl Lauterbach (SPD) said yesterday that it could be a good idea. Wearing a mask, washing your hands and isolating if you have symptoms are the official recommendations. 

What about my holiday?

If it’s in the EU you should be fine, but airlines sometimes cancel flights if enough of their staff are sick. 

That warm glow is here to stay, but only in limited areas. IMAGO / blickwinkel

Wednesday 15, June

On Wednesday, there were 2,334 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 278.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin to stop gaslighting (bad news for boyfriends everywhere); heatwave expected this weekend

For over 200 years, Berlin’s streets have been lit by the warm glow of gas lamps. However, due to rising energy costs, this is changing. More than half of Berlin’s 44,000 gas-powered street lamps have been reconfigured to energy-saving alternatives in the past few years. A gas lamp costs the state around €500 per year, significantly more than the €50 required by LEDs – and given the war in Ukraine, gas isn’t getting any cheaper. The city plans to heritage-list around 3,300 – maintaining that beloved warm glow – but hopes to replace the remaining 20,000 at a rate of 2,000 per year.In other news, temperatures in Berlin are expected to reach up to 32 degrees on Saturday and 37 on Sunday this week. Meteorologists are reporting that hot air from Africa will cause a heatwave across central Europe with potentially lethal consequences for at-risk groups in southern regions. So get ready to drink lots of water!

Passengers at Berlin Hauptbahnhof. Photo: IMAGO / Stefan Zeitz

Tuesday 14, June

On Tuesday, there were 3,046 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 292.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Train delayed more than 20 minutes? Take the ICE with your €9 ticket

Since the start of the month it’s been possible to travel across Germany with the newly introduced €9 monthly ticket, provided you take regional trains rather than the faster long-distance EC, IC and ICE services. But what happens if your train is delayed? Many passengers were faced with this situation on the crowded route between Berlin and the Baltic Sea last weekend and, while it is not possible to get your €9 ticket refunded, statutory passenger rights mean that anyone whose train is delayed more than 20 minutes at the final destination is entitled to take a fast train instead. In this situation, passengers would have to pay for the long-distance train ticket up front, but would be entitled to compensation, as long as they can provide proof of their delay.

In other news, criminals are taking advantage of Berlin’s housing crisis. Berlin police are looking for a man who scammed at least 20 people using false advertisements for an apartment. After receiving applications in response to his false ad, the fraudster asked for a €500 broker fee, then disappeared. The police have released a photo of the suspect and are asking the public for further information.

Florence Welch of the band Florence + the Machine at Tempelhof Sounds Festival in Berlin, 10 June 2022. Photo: IMAGO / Martin Müller

Monday 13, June

On Monday, there were 1,543 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 220.3 cases per 100,000 people.

First crayfish of the year caught in Berlin; Florence + the Machine cause small earthquake

The bright red crustaceans were first spotted in the lake in Berlin’s Tiergarten in August 2017 and they’ve been growing in number ever since. Red American swamp crayfish are an invasive species in Europe, native to the southern United States and northern Mexico, and they’re likely to have first entered into the wild after escaping from captivity as pets in aquariums. In order to stop their spread, fisherman have been permitted to catch the crayfish, with Britzer Garten and Tiergarten lakes being the prime spots. Hunting season started on June 1, but last week saw the first traps laid out. As a result, crayfish are on the menu at a number of Berlin restaurants.

In other news, Berlin reportedly experienced a minor earthquake on Friday night caused by the Florence + the Machine crowd at Tempelhof Sounds music festival. Several Neukölln residents felt tremors in their apartments around 9pm, with three local seismological stations registering activity up to 1.4 on the Richter Scale, according to T-Online and RBB. The epicentre? The hangars of the former THF airport, exactly at the time the 25,000-strong crowd jumped in unison to the song Dog Days Are Over.

Inlfation is on the rise and shows no sign of slowing down. IMAGO / Panthermedia

Friday 10, June

On Friday, there were 2,237 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 207.0 cases per 100,000 people.

Inflation at highest level since 1979

Inflation hit 7.9 percent at the end of May, the highest since 1979 according to the Federal Statistical Office of Germany. Energy prices have risen even more severely, with gas 42 percent more expensive than it was in December 2021. Groceries and other basics have also seen sharp price increases. Butter, salami and shampoo have gone up by 30, 28 and 26 percent respectively. Petrol is up to an average of 200.3 cents per litre from an average of 188.8 last year. Economist Stefan Kooths from the Kiel Institute for World Economics has warned that the European Central bank needs to act or inflation could worsen even more severely.

The Douglas storefront on Tauenzienstraße where a man drove his car into a group of pedestrians. IMAGO / Stefan Zeitz

Thursday 9, June

On Thursday, there were 1,910 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 182.3 cases per 100,000 people.

Police arrest mentally impaired 29 year old following Tauentzienstraße attack

On Wednesday morning, a car drove off the road and rammed into a crowd of pedestrians, killing one woman, later identified as a teacher from Hesse, and critically injuring several others. Police have arrested a 29-year-old man described by Berlin’s Interior Senator Irish Spranger (SPD) as “mentally impaired”. Spranger was joined by Berlin’s mayor Franziska Giffey and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in describing the incident as an “amoktat”, a psychotic episode or a random act of violence. A political motivation is being ruled out, despite some posters relating to Turkey being found in the vehicle. In 2016, an Islamist attack took place at almost the same location, when 12 were killed at the Christmas market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

Tauentzienstraße in Charlottenburg, where a car drove into a group of pedestrians on June 8, 2022. Photo: IMAGO / Andreas Gora

Wednesday 8, June – update

At least one person has been killed and as many as eight injured at Breitscheidplatz in Charlottenburg this morning, after a car drove into a group of people and then through a shop display window near the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. It is still unclear if the incident was an accident or intentional. What is known is that at around 10:30, a silver Renault Clio drove into a group of pedestrians on the pavement near Rankestraße, where Kurfürstendamm merges into Tauentzienstraße, then back onto the road at Tauentzienstraße. The car then mounted the pavement again at Marburger Straße and drove into a shop window, where the driver then stopped. Of the eight injured, five are in a critical condition and the other three were severely injured. More than 130 police are currently in attendance and a criminal investigation has begun. A man has been arrested.

The incident happened close to where a terrorist attack took place in December 2016, when a man drove a truck into the Christmas market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church, killing 12 and injuring 56.

The Robert Koch Institute at Virchow Klinikum. Photo IMAGO / Andreas Gora

Wednesday 8, June

On Wednesday, there were 2,787 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 173,0 cases per 100,000 people.

72 cases of monkeypox confirmed in Berlin

Berlin has now identified 72 cases of monkeypox, with 13 patients requiring hospitalisation according to the Senate Department for Science, Health, Nursing and Gender Equality on Tuesday. This is a sharp rise from the 48 known cases on Friday. The Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported a total of 80 infections nationwide, but this was shortly before the case numbers from Berlin were released. The RKI emphasised that transmission is only possible with close body contact, and that the majority of cases are sexually transmitted. On average there are 21 days between infection and the outbreak of symptoms that include fever, muscle aches, headaches and swollen lymph nodes. For this reason, Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) has suggested three weeks’ isolation for close contacts.

Queue in front of the Neukölln Bürgeramt. IMAGO / Olaf Wagner

Tuesday 7, June


On Tuesday, there were 1,083 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 199.2 cases per 100,000 people.


Berlin fails to digitise, surprises no one

Berlin has failed to meet its own digitisation deadline, with only one quarter of administrative procedures currently available online. The state of Berlin declared in August 2017 that it would make all administrative procedures digital within five years, but so far only 137 of 575 have made the switch. Applying for an identification document or changing your Anmeldung are still only possible in person – although you can now apply for a gun licence from your laptop. Chief Digital Officer Ralf Kleindiek (SPD) stated that whilst the August 2022 deadline hasn’t yet passed, his office won’t be able to achieve its stated goals, adding that this was “clear from early on”. He excused his failure by pointing out that other states in Germany have also failed to digitise, and that a further 20 services are expected to be made available this year, followed by 120 next year.

Elon Musk, looking down on us. Photo: IMAGO / UPI Photo

Friday 3, June

On Friday, there were 1,060 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 217.6 cases per 100,000 people.

Metalworkers union IG Metall responds to Elon Musk’s work-from-home ban

“Everyone at Tesla is required to spend a minimum of 40 hours in the office per week…. If you don’t show up, we will assume you have resigned.” Those were the words of Tesla CEO Elon Musk to his staff, according to a recently leaked internal email. But now IG Metall, the German metalworkers union, have spoken out against this idea. Musk recently opened the Tesla factory in Grünheide, Brandenburg – and has a history of conflict with unions. The Grünheide staff founded a workers council back in February, their workers are being courted by the IG Metall union. Birgit Dietze, spokesperson for IG Metall Berlin-Brandenburg responded to Musk’s comments, pointing out that: “In Germany, employers can’t just do as they please, they have to comply with statutory labor law.”

Full trains and highways expected this weekend. IMAGO / photothek

Thursday 2, June

On Thursday, there were 1,912 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 189.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Overcrowded trains, Monkeypox and COVID-19 regulations

Claudia Löffler, spokesperson for ADAC (Germany’s largest automobile association) has predicted that the highways between Berlin and the seaside will be overcrowded as Berliners seek to take advantage of the Pfingsten long weekend. She warned that the A2, A10, A11, A19 and A24 would be the worst affected. The train and transport union (EVG) expects similar conditions on the lines connecting Berlin to popular seaside destinations such as Rügen, Borkum, Fehmarn and Sylt. Martin Burkert, deputy chairman of the EVG has described this coming weekend as a “stress test” for the coming summer months of cheap train travel.

Meanwhile, there have been 18 confirmed cases of monkeypox in Berlin – and it is expected that more have gone undetected according to Health Senator, Ulrike Gote (Greens). The Robert Koch institute is reporting 33 cases nationwide. Furthermore, Berlin’s senate have decided the current COVID-19 regulations will remain unchanged at least until the end of June.

Overcrowding may be the norm this summer. Photo IMAGO / Sabine Gudath

Wednesday 1, June

On Wednesday, there were 1,742 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 179.6 cases per 100,000 people.

The 9€ ticket comes into effect!

As of today, the 9€ ticket is valid Germany-wide. The BVG reports that over 500.000 Berliners have purchased the ticket, but that number is dwarfed by the 9 million purchased across the country. But while most seem happy with the cheap, green alternative this summer, others predict chaos on the rail network. One of those is “railway expert” and Economics professor at the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin, Christian Böttger, who has described the 9€ ticket as “nonsense” and predicts that the network will not have the capacity to keep up with the increased demand and passengers will become stranded due to packed trains.

Berlin has been the driest place in Germany this spring. Photo: IMAGO / Sabine Gudath

Tuesday 31, May

On Tuesday, there were 1900 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 189.2 cases per 100,000 people.

Dry city, wet apartments

Berlin was the driest area in Germany from March to May according to data released by the German weather service. Too little rain, mild temperatures and more sunshine than usual have been the trends this spring, with Berlin receiving only 55 litres of rain per square metre, down from a long-term average of 132 litres. The average temperature was 9.9 °C, above the long-term average of 8.7 °C and sunshine hours were up from 507 to 680 over the season.

Quite the opposite could be said of one Leipziger Straße apartment building that was evacuated late on Sunday after a pipe burst, flooding the complex. Authorities have declared that the 20-storey building will remain unliveable for at least another two weeks.

To celebrate the season, some towns appoint their own “asparagus queen”. Photo: IMAGO / Future Image

Monday 30, May

On Monday, there were 0 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 199.1 cases per 100,000 people.

A bad year for Brandenburg asparagus

Each year, Brandenburg celebrates Spargelzeit, the time for harvesting their beloved white asparagus. During this time, you’ll find asparagus everywhere: on pizza, in soups and, most commonly, served with potatoes and hollandaise sauce. In Beelitz, a famous spot for growing the crop, asparagus statues line the roads and a festival is held each year to honour the precious spears. This year, however, has been tough for asparagus farmers, according to Jürgen Jakobs, chairman of the Beelitz asparagus association. Many factors, including the war in Ukraine, have led to decreased demand, and he believes there could be a 20 percent reduction in the local asparagus haul this season. The final crop of the year is usually cut on St John’s Day on June 25.

Berlin wait an average of eight weeks before their first psychotherapy session. Photo: IMAGO / Panthermedia

Friday 27, May

On Friday, there were 25 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 202.2 cases per 100,000 people.

How long does it take to get therapy in Berlin?

Two surveys reach very different conclusions. According a study conducted by Germany’s health insurers, long waiting times for a session in psychotherapy are the exception, with only 16.4 percent of people waiting eight weeks or more. According a rival study by the Federal Chamber of Psychotherapists, however, 40 percent of people wait more than three months, and another 20 percent wait more than six. So who’s right? A third study conducted by rbb|24 investigated the situation and found that it was indeed dire – although Berlin was comparatively better than most of Germany.

The median wait in Berlin appears to be about eight weeks before someone can expect their first session with a psychotherapist, although the availability is very different based on district. When rbb|24 tried to account for the discrepancy in the two studies, they noticed that the health insurers had only included in their study people who eventually got a session – meaning anyone still waiting at the conclusion of the study was excluded. The rbb|24 study also found that many therapists in Berlin had simply given up keeping waiting lists, since they were consistently so overwhelmed.

A protestor with a star of david attends a protest against antisemitism. Photo: IMAGO / IPON

Wednesday 25, May

On Wednesday, there were 2,182 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 250.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Number of antisemitic incidents rising in Berlin

On Tuesday, the Department for Research and Information on Antisemitism Berlin (RIAS) revealed the number of antisemitic incidents reported in Berlin in 2021. The latest figures show a significant increase, even if a direct comparison with previous years is difficult due to the police no longer providing data to civil society organisations. The data recorded 22 attacks, 28 threats, 43 incidents of damage to property and 895 cases of injurious behaviour. Alarmingly, there were even two cases of “extreme violence”, that is, physical attacks which could result in serious injury or death. More than half of the recorded cases took place online or by e-mail, and 181 incidents were directly related to the protests that accompanied the conflict between Israel and Palestine in spring 2021.

The Israel-Palestine conflict has been a controversial topic in Berlin in recent weeks. First, Berlin police banned pro-Palestinian protests in the lead up to demonstrations on May 1, and then again forbade several protests around Nakba Day on May 15, arresting several activists who tried to commemorate the expulsion of Palestinians from Israel in 1948.

The €9 ticket is valid throughout Germany. IMAGO / Achille Abboud

Tuesday 24, May

On Tuesday, there were 2,184 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 250.2 cases per 100,000 people.

More than 130,000 people have already bought the €9 ticket.

Deutsche Bahn and the BVG confirmed it will run extra services in response to the record number of Berliners planning to make use of the €9 ticket. More staff will also be deployed to ensure a smooth delivery of service. The €9 ticket went on sale last Friday, and S-Bahn Berlin alone has sold more than 13,400 tickets.

The majority of the extra trains will be weekend, regional services and, over the next three months both the S1 and S7 will run every 10 minutes during the evenings. Deutsche Bahn made no guarantee that passengers would have room for their bikes.

The regional train between Potsdam and Berlin, which hasn’t been in in use since 1945 is also set to be resurrected, but Berlin’s Senator for Transport Bettina Jarasch (Greens) and Brandenburg’s Minister of Transport Guido Beermann (CDU) warned that the track would not be available for the S-Bahn.

Three cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in Berlin. Photo: IMAGO / Science Photo Library

Monday 23, May 

On Monday, there were 118 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 261.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Three cases of monkeypox detected in Berlin; €9 tickets now on sale

The Robert Koch institute confirmed on Friday the first cases of monkeypox in Berlin. But, according to Health Senator Ulrike Gote (Greens), fears of another pandemic are unfounded as the virus is not sufficiently infectious. Reportedly, the first patient contracted the virus at a club over a week ago, while the second case involved a patient who had attended Christopher Street Day in Gran Canaria of the Canary Islands two weeks previously. There is believed to be no relationship between the cases. Symptoms of monkeypox include small smallpox-like ulcers appearing on the skin, as well as fever, headache and painful limbs.

In other news, starting today Berliners can buy the €9 ticket for public transport, covering a month’s travel. Available in the BVG app or from ticket machines, each pass will become valid from June 1 and last for the entire month.

Batten down the hatches! Wild weather expected in Berlin later today. Photo:IMAGO / Rene Traut

Friday 20, May

On Friday, there were 1,637 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 282.0 cases per 100,000 people.

Storms, hail – and maybe tornadoes – are headed for Berlin

Berlin is set to be hit by violent storms tonight, warns the German Weather Service. Heavy thunderstorms and gale-force winds of between 90 and 130 km/h are likely, as well as up to 60 litres of rainfall per square meter. There is also the chance of hailstones up to 5cm in diameter (5cm is considered the size at which hail is likely to do significant damage to property, cars, roofs and windows). If this didn’t sound worrying enough, there is also the chance of tornadoes occurring in Berlin and Brandenburg. The turbulent weather is likely to hit at around 4pm and last into the night, calming down abruptly on Saturday evening.

The BVG has a new sound identity. Photo: IMAGO / Frank Sorge

Thursday 19, May

On Thursday, there were 1,977 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 304.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Bing bong or bong bing? The BVG introduces new unified sound identity

Until now, the sound which precedes an announcement on Berlin’s public transport network has been made up from a patchwork of different noises. Where the U-Bahn has one sound, buses have another, and the tram a third. This is set to change, with the BVG announcing on Wednesday that the mishmash of bongs, bings and bloops will be replaced with a new modern and coherent sound concept. Timo Kerßenfischer from the BVG said that no one knows exactly why this patchwork emerged, but commented that, “Just as all vehicles are yellow, the BVG should have the same sound everywhere.” However, finding their new sound concept was no easy task. Apparently, they recorded countless different voices and noises before settling on the new sound, which was developed digitally with a bass clarinet. Interested passengers can already head to the BVG website to listen to the new sound, or even download it as a ringtone.

The district office of Berlin’s Interior Senator was vandalised in the early hours of Tuesday morning. Photo: IMAGO / snapshot

Wednesday 18, May

On Wednesday, there were 2,238 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 321.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin Interior Senator’s office vandalised with words “no Kotti watch”

At about 2.30am on Tuesday morning, a police officer discovered that the office of Berlin’s Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) had been vandalised. A window was damaged and a large slogan had been written on the wall of the building reading: “Keine Kotti-Wache” or “No Kotti watch”. This refers to the controversial proposal to build a new police station at Kottbusser Tor in Kreuzberg, which has for years had high rates of drug crime. According to a police spokesperson, no one broke into the office. Late yesterday morning, Iris Spranger responded to the incident on Twitter, writing “My employees and I would like to thank you for your solidarity! We won’t be intimidated!”

RAW-Gelände. Photo: IMAGO / Votos-Roland Owsnitzki

Tuesday 17, May

On Tuesday, there were 2,686 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 346.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Will plans for a new tower at RAW-Gelände spell the end for Urban Spree?

Tonight at Astra Kulturhaus, the final plans for the new RAW Gelände tower will be presented to the public — and not everyone is happy. The new high-rise is being developed by the Kurth Group, who have promised to maintain the ‘DNA’ of the cultural space. However their plans would lead to the disappearance of many cultural institutions on the site, including Suicide Circus, Urban Spree and the Astra Kulturhaus itself. This is not the first controversial development in the area: the building will sit opposite the heavily opposed “Amazon tower“. This evening’s event, which starts at 6pm, is organised by the developers and is aimed at informing the public of their plan, though some protests are expected.

A wolf pack has been spotted just 30km outside Berlin. Photo: IMAGO / Olaf Wagner

Monday 16, May

On Monday, there were 16 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 375.0 cases per 100,000 people.

The wolf pack living 30 kilometres from Alexanderplatz is larger than assumed

Back in October 2021, Berliners learned that a pack of wolves had been spotted living across the Havel, on Döberitzer Heide, just 30 kilometres from Alexanderplatz in the centre of the city. Now, it has been confirmed that the wolf pack contains at least eight members – and there would have been still more but for some deadly encounters between wolves and motorists. At least two young wolves were run over in recent months. The Döberitzer Heide is a former military training area which has for 20 years been a designated nature reserve, home to bison and Przewalski’s horses as well as wolves.

Volker Wissing doesn’t want to see your brunch. Photo: IMAGO / aal.photo

Friday 13, May

On Friday, there were 2,470 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 356.7 cases per 100,000 people.

Germany’s minister for Digital Affairs doesn’t want to see pictures of your food

Volker Wissing (FDP) is Germany’s minister for Digital Affairs – a job which should probably involve avoiding making yourself an object of ridicule on the internet. But in a meeting in Düsseldorf on Wednesday, Wissing caused a minor shitstorm when he warned against people posting photographs of food on social media. “If you look at the number of photos of food worldwide,” he said, “you come to an enormous consumption of energy. When we do things like this, do we remember that it has significant consequences?” What Wissing should have kept in mind, however, is that the internet is a giant, searchable archive and, surely enough, he was guilty of sharing pictures of himself eating food. Cakes, waffles, pizza, sashimi, sourdough bread, cappuccinos… you name it, he’s publicly distributed photos of it.

Maria Alyokhina wearing the distinctive coloured balaclava of Pussy Riot. Photo: IMAGO / Agencia EFE

Thursday 12, May

On Thursday, there were 2,899 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 347.9 cases per 100,000 people.

After band member escapes Russia, Pussy Riot to perform tonight at Funkhaus

The musician and activist Maria Alyokhina has spent the last year and a half either in prison camps or under house arrest in Russia, being strictly monitored 24 hours a day. Tonight, however, she will perform with her punk-rock group Pussy Riot at Funkhaus Berlin, the former DDR broadcasting centre built in the 1950s. Earlier this year, Russian authorities announced that Alyokhina would be returned to a penal colony, which prompted her to attempt her escape dressed as a food delivery driver to avoid detection. As she had no passport, she was forced to make a circuitous route out of the country, travelling through Belarus, Lithuania and Iceland, before finally arriving in Berlin. Proceeds from tonight’s concert will go towards refugee support organisations.

Berlin wants all potential teachers to volunteer information of their tattoos. Photo: IMAGO / IPON

Wednesday 11, May

On Wednesday, there were 3,802 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 338.1 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin teachers will be asked to disclose information about their tattoos voluntarily

The original plan was to force all prospective teachers in Berlin to provide a detailed description of exactly what tattoos they had, where they were on their bodies, and even to provide their employers with photographs of the symbols in question. This, however, has been deemed too invasive, and teachers will simply be asked to volunteer the information. The intention behind the measure is to ensure that no teachers will be appointed in Berlin who have chosen to decorate their bodies with a Nazi symbol, or any other offensive image which might violate the constitution. The specifics of the proposal are still being ironed out, with Education Senator Astrid Sabine-Busse (SPD) admitting that the initial plan was “too extensive.”

Could Berlin eventually become car-free? Photo: IMAGO / Cathrin Bach

Tuesday 10, May

On Tuesday, there were 2,797 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 350.0 cases per 100,000 people.

Senate believes referendum on car-free Berlin would violate constitution

The Berlin Senate must be getting sick of referendums. While the city continues to drag its feet on the implementation of the “Deutsche Wohnen & Co Enteignen” referendum, which demanded that the city expropriate the property of major landlords, now comes another planned referendum which the Senate believes may violate the constitution and therefore be inadmissible to put forward for a vote. This time the call is for a car-free Berlin. The alliance “Volksentschied Berlin autofrei” (referendum car-free Berlin) proposes to prohibit all private car traffic within the area of the S-Bahn ring. However, Environment Senator Bettina Jarasch (Greens) thinks that this plan would be not only unconstitutional, but that the proposal would also be unhelpful, shifting traffic problems to the outskirts of the city rather than eliminating them.

Police remove a Ukrainian flag at a protest at the Soviet Memorial in Tiergarten on Sunday, May 8. Tensions are high as Berlin marks 77 years since Soviet forces liberated Berlin from Nazi control. Photo: IMAGO / Bernd Elmenthaler

Monday 09, May

On Monday, there were 93 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 337.9 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin bans Russian and Ukrainian flags at the city’s Soviet memorials

As Berlin marks 77 years since the end of World War Two, tensions remain high at the city’s Soviet memorials. On Friday, police announced a temporary ban on Russian flags and the ‘Z’ symbol that has come to symbolise Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at 15 sites across the city on May 8 and May 9. The Berlin police want to ensure “that there is no public endorsement of the war of aggression on Ukraine” at pro-Russian events “even outside these memorial sites”, according to the Senate. To the consternation of Ukrainian officials and Berlin politicians, a ban on the display of the Ukrainian flag has also been enforced, with the Senate announcing the aim was to enable “dignified, peaceful commemoration”. The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany, Andriy Melnyk, called the decision a “disgrace”. Yesterday, a 25-metre-long Ukrainian flag was removed by police at a commemorative event at the Soviet memorial in Tiergarten.

Noah was the most popular name for a boy in Berlin last year. Photo: IMAGO / serienlicht

Friday 06, May

On Friday, there were 2,187 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 369.3 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin’s most popular baby names revealed

Each year, Berlin announces which names were given to children born in the previous year – with some surprising results. From 2020 to 2021, Noah, Leon and Emil remained the top three names given to Berlin boys – but Oskar climbed six places, going from the twelfth most popular name for boys in 2020 to sixth in 2021. Among girls, the biggest loser was the name Hannah: eighth most popular in 2020, it fell 10 places to number 18 on the rankings in 2021. Berlin’s most popular girl’s name last year was Emilia, up from third place in 2020.

The list also contains some more unusual choices. Among the children who will find it easier to know when their parents call their names on the playground are: Phillipp-Brain, Libero, Christ, Hertha and Fanta, all of which were only given once.

Here are the top 10 most popular baby names in Berlin:

Boys:

  • Noah
  • Leon
  • Emil
  • Elias
  • Adam
  • Oskar
  • Paul
  • Anton
  • Liam
  • Leo

Girls:

  • Emilia
  • Mia
  • Charlotte
  • Mila
  • Emma
  • Ella
  • Lea
  • Lina
  • Anna
  • Sophia
The Soviet Memorial in Treptower Park in Berlin. Photo: IMAGO / Emmanuele Contini

Thursday 5, May

On Thursday, there were 2,674 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 415.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Berlin fears “Victory Day” celebrations could become flashpoint for conflict over Ukraine

Every year on May 8 and 9, to coincide with the day the treaty of unconditional surrender was signed in Europe, commemorations are held in Berlin to honour the soldiers who defeated Nazi Germany in World War II. This year, however, due to the Russian war on Ukraine, there are widespread fears that the celebrations could become a flashpoint for tensions. Berlin’s Interior Senator Iris Spranger (SPD) has confirmed that 28 events are scheduled for May 8, with 17 planned the following day. Among the Russian community, May 9 is known as Victory Day and a major public holiday, remembering the 27 million Soviets, both Russian and Ukrainian, who were killed during the war. Accordingly, a number of Russian initiatives are behind the celebrations this year, which are mostly being held in Treptower Park. Berlin has banned any show of support for the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, such as the display of the letter “Z”, and there will also be a protest against it with 500 demonstrators set to attend.

Will bikes be banned from Friedrichstraße? Photo: IMAGO / Manngold

Wednesday 4, May

On Wednesday, there were 4,087 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 457.8 cases per 100,000 people.

Friedrichstraße to become Italian-style piazza?

Since September 2020, Berlin’s Friedrichstraße has been car free, with stalls and extra seating outside and a bicycle lane running through the centre of the road. But now, plans have been announced to take this experiment one step further and ban bicycles, too. Berlin’s environment and transport senator Bettina Jarasch (Greens) has said that she would like to model the street on an Italian-style ‘piazza’ or town square, a place where people meet and walk freely. The car-free experiment has already run for a year and a half, and a Senate report evaluating its success suggested that while more pedestrians have been strolling along the street, they limit themselves to the pavements. The proposed development would make the whole street freely traversable for people on foot.

Grocery shopping in Berlin is getting more expensive. Photo: IMAGO / Xinhua

Tuesday 3, May

On Tuesday, there were 2,938 new Covid-19 infections reported in Berlin. The seven-day incidence currently stands at 458.4 cases per 100,000 people.

Food prices up 7.9 percent in Berlin, German-Russian museum to take new name

The price of everyday goods in Berlin has risen 7.9 percent since one year ago, with food and energy particularly affected. The major causes for the rise in prices are the war in Ukraine and the corona lockdown of Shanghai in China, both of which have disrupted supply chains and caused delivery bottlenecks. Cooking oil and flour are among the worst affected goods, more than doubling in price, while beef, pork, eggs, butter, cucumbers and tomatoes have also increased in price by more than 10 percent. Restaurant prices have also increased as a result of this overall price inflation.

Meanwhile, the historic German-Russian Museum Berlin-Karlshorst will change its name due to the war in Ukraine. The museum marks the spot where, on the night of May 8, 1945, Germany signed its unconditional surrender to the Soviet Union, France, Great Britain and the USA and the focus of its permanent exhibition is the German-Soviet war. The Ukrainian ambassador to Germany Andriy Melnyk has long been critical of the name, which he believes underplays the Ukrainian contribution to the Soviet war effort. The museum will now be known simply as the Museum Berlin-Karlshorst.

Demonstrators march through Kreuzberg on May 1. Photo: IMAGO / Future Image

Monday 2, May