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  • Berlin news update: Friday, February 12


Berlin news update: Friday, February 12

Schools to reopen from February 22, outdoor drinking ban relaxed, police permitted to enter Rigaer Straße squat, and warnings about icy water after swimmer dies.

Image for Berlin news update: Friday, February 12

Berlin’s schools will begin opening to pupils from February 22. Photo: IMAGO / Jürgen Ritter

Schools to reopen to some pupils, outdoor drinking ban relaxed, Covid variant forces hospital closure

Berlin’s schools will begin opening to pupils from February 22, starting with years one to three. According to an agreement reached by senators on Thursday night, pupils will be taught on alternate days to ensure social distancing while compulsory attendance is to remain suspended, meaning that parents are not legally required to send their children to school. Starting the same day, attendance at the city’s Kitas may also be increased: day nurseries will be allowed to open at up to 60 percent of normal capacity, meaning children with language support needs and those about to start school will be allowed back. 

The citywide ban on outdoor drinking will be relaxed as part of newly revised rules agreed by Berlin’s Senate last night. Starting on Sunday, consumption of alcohol will only be prohibited in green spaces and car parks. Drinking had previously been banned in all public spaces including outside bars and cafes. Other changes due to come into force as part of a new schedule of nationwide rules agreed this week include the opening of libraries on February 22 and hairdressers on March 1. 

The Vivantes clinic in Spandau introduced a temporary ban on patient admissions today after at least 55 cases of the B117 variant of the coronavirus were detected at the hospital. The mutation has been reported in a number of wards, with 17 employees amongst those infected. The hospital will not be admitting patients until at least February 25 and has closed its emergency department to new arrivals. The rapid-spreading B117 variant of Covid-19 was first detected in the south of England in December.

Court overturns ban on routine surgeries, police permitted to enter Rigaer Straße squat, warnings about icy water after swimmer dies

Berlin hospitals will once again be allowed to perform routine operations after a court overturned a temporary ban on the procedures. To help relieve hospitals during the Covid-19 pandemic, the Senate had stipulated that only medically urgent admissions and operations would be permitted in Berlin’s hospitals. But according to a decision made by the Administrative Court today the Senate does not have “sufficient authorisation” to impose the requirement.

A court has cleared the way for police to enter a left-wing squat in Friedrichshain in order for fire safety checks to be made. In a ruling yesterday, the Berlin Court of Appeal said that a fire safety expert was permitted to enter flats within the Rigaer Straße 94 house along with police officers and a representative of the owner. The building – one of the last remaining leftist squats in Berlin – is at the centre of battle between the local authority, the landlord and residents, who reportedly attacked building managers and a lawyer when they attempted to enter the house last year.

Emergency services have warned of the dangers of swimming in icy water after the death of a man who was pulled from a Berlin pond earlier this week. The 43-year-old disappeared under the water after entering the “Karpfenteich” pond at Treptower Park in freezing temperatures on Wednesday. It was more than two hours before divers were able to recover the man, who later died in hospital. Berlin’s fire service implored the public to avoid water during the current cold weather. “Bathing in ice is life-threatening,” a spokesperson said.