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  • Daily Berlin news update: Friday, October 16


Daily Berlin news update: Friday, October 16

Court overturns Berlin's curfew, call for mandatory outdoor masks, soldiers sent to man Covid hotlines, and clampdown on police officer influencers.

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Court overturns Berlin curfew, call to make masks compulsory outdoors

Berlin’s curfew forcing restaurants, bars and shops to close at 11pm has been overturned. Today an Administrative Court ruled that the city had failed to justify the night-time ban, which was introduced by the Senat last weekend to help counter a surge in new Covid cases. The decision is the result of a legal challenge mounted by a number of restaurant owners who see the new rules as an existential threat to their businesses. In the end the court accepted the argument that closing food and drink establishments early would simply drive young people to private places where no social distancing rules apply, thus elevating the overall risk of infection. The city is set to appeal the decision.

Berlin is set to introduce new rules requiring people to wear masks in certain outdoor areas, Health Senator Dilek Kalayci has signalled. The regulations would mean pedestrians on busy pavements and markets in high-risk areas would have to cover up. “There are places and streets in Berlin where we know it gets very crowded,” the SPD politician told the DPA today. The suggestion comes following an agreement between federal and state governments to force local authorities to tighten the rules in areas with more than 35 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants. In Berlin the current rate is 83.2. The restrictions are expected to be approved in a sitting of the Senat next Tuesday. 

Fewer requests for Corona cash, soldiers answering Corona hotlines, new limits on hospital visits

Demand for the government’s latest small business aid scheme has been significantly lower than expected, with just €3.8 million of the €90 million fund claimed so far. Yesterday the Investitionsbank Berlin, which is responsible for paying out the state-funded aid, said it had received just 349 applications for the cash, which is aimed at firms with 10 to 250 employees. The lack of demand could be due to the stricter rules attached to the aid: businesses only qualify if their turnover dropped by 60 percent during the onset of the crisis.

Members of Germany’s armed forces are helping to man Berlin’s Covid-19 hotlines as authorities struggle to cope with an influx of cases. The federal government sent 460 Bundeswehr soldiers to local health authorities in Berlin and Brandenburg to help with contact tracing. In Mitte 94 soldiers are being stationed in call centres, while 27 have been deployed in Neukölln despite opposition from local Die Linke politicians. Authorities in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg have rejected Bundeswehr support, arguing they have enough resources to deal with the deluge.

Friends and relatives face new restrictions on visiting loved ones in hospital. Under rules announced this week aimed at reducing risk of Covid transmission, patients may only be visited by one person for an hour a day. There are exceptions: women giving birth will be able to invite one person to accompany them, while those who are seriously ill are exempt from the restrictions. The new rules will come into force on Saturday.

Stricter rules for police Instagrammers, weekend S-Bahn disruption

Police officers who moonlight as social media influencers should face tougher rules, a trade union has said. According to a paper published by the GdP this week, current guidelines on what officers can post online are insufficient: “Colleagues with tens of thousands of followers do not really know what they can and cannot do,” the report says. Increasing numbers of Berlin police officers have built up large online followings on sites like Instagram and TikTok, posing photos and videos of themselves in uniform alongside images from their private lives. One such officer, @lana.glam, has over 63,000 followers on Instagram.

Due to construction work service on four S-Bahn lines will be suspended this weekend. There will be no service on the S1, S25, S5 and S85 between 10pm on Friday and Monday morning. Berliners can make use of other S-Bahn lines where available, with a replacement bus service running in place of the S5. Passengers are advised to check the S-Bahn website before travelling.