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  • Berlin news update: Friday, November 20


Berlin news update: Friday, November 20

Lockdown likely to last until 2021, thousands of school pupils in quarantine, teacher arrested following suspected cannibalistic killing and Berlin Zoo gets three new lions.

Image for Berlin news update: Friday, November 20

A Berlin teacher has been arrested after bone fragments were found in Pankow woodland. Photo: Baciu Cristian Mihai/Unsplash

Lockdown set to last until 2021, school Covid surge leaves thousands in quarantine

Berlin’s restaurants, cafés, pubs and cultural institutions are likely to remain closed until at least Christmas with any reopening unlikely before 2021, the Tagesspiegel reported today. The news comes as Germany’s federal and state governments discuss new tougher restrictions to combat the latest Covid wave. Under current social distancing rules due to lapse on November 30, people from one household are allowed to meet two other people from different households. It is thought that this restriction – along with the closures of gastro and cultural institutions – will be extended into December, with even tighter limits on social gatherings being proposed. The Berlin Senat has said it will implement any nationally agreed rules, with Chancellor Angela Merkel due to set out the plans at a summit next Wednesday. 

A surge in Corona outbreaks at Berlin schools has left 1500 pupils infected and forced thousands more into quarantine, latest figures show. At least 10 schools are now in the “red zone”, forcing them to send many of their pupils home. Last week the number was just three. More than 825 classes are currently in quarantine, with 415 teachers and school employees also locked down. Teachers union GEW has called for a partial closure of schools in response, suggesting that most classes can be conducted online. But Education Senator Sandra Scheeres says the city’s schools can contain the surge. “Our schools are well prepared for the various eventualities. School staff are currently performing exceptionally well,” the Tagesspiegel quoted the SPD politician as saying.

Teacher arrested following suspected cannibalistic killing, court rejects AfD mask demand

A Pankow teacher was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of killing a man in an apparently cannibalistic act, police announced on Thursday. After an investigation was launched earlier this month when bones were found in woods near the suspect’s home, police were able to determine that the fragments belonged to Stefan T., a 44-year-old man from Lichtenberg who has been missing since September 5. During a search of the 41-year-old teacher’s flat investigators found indications of cannibalism including blood traces and “relevant tools”, according to public prosecutor Martin Steltner. The suspect’s identity has not been published due to Germany’s strict privacy laws.

A court has rejected a legal challenge by the AfD that would allow its parliamentarians not to wear masks in the Bundestag. In a decision today, the Berlin Administrative Court ruled that mandatory mask wearing in Germany’s legislative chamber was in fact lawful. Nine members of the AfD grouping had launched an urgent appeal after tighter coronavirus rules were introduced in the chamber in October. But the court said the restrictions were justified given that any Covid outbreak in the Bundestag “would impair the proper functioning of the institution.”

Applications to open for restaurant cash, zoo gets three new lions

Owners of restaurants, bars and shops forced to close due to the Corona restrictions will be able to apply for emergency cash starting Monday. As with previous rounds of funding, applications for the so-called “Soforthilfe Schankwirtschaft” (“Emergency Aid for Pubs”) are being managed by the IBB, which is due to publish the eligibility criteria on its website this weekend. Target recipients for money are likely to be small companies with fewer than 250 employees who have suffered sales losses due to the Covid rules.

Berlin has some new beasts: on Thursday three young African lions moved into the zoo, marking the return of big cats at the park following a long absence. Born in 2019, Elsa, Hanna and Mateo will now call Berlin their home after being transferred from Leipzig Zoo. Their special enclosure extends to 1400 square metres and offers luxuries like heated rock caves and various objects for scratching, playing and climbing.