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  • Daily Berlin news update: Friday, October 9

Berlin

Daily Berlin news update: Friday, October 9

Charité in ICU warning as Covid surge continues, Brandenburg announces ban on Berlin visitors, police clear Friedrichshain squat, and fresh BVG strikes bring travel disruption.

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Charité in ICU warning as Corona cases soar, Brandenburg bans overnight visits by Berliners, Friedrichshain squat Liebig 34 evicted

Berlin’s Charité has warned of a shortage of staff in intensive care units and is planning to suspend routine operations due to the Covid crisis, the hospital announced today. Ulrich Frei, responsible for personnel management at the Charité, said that the problem is not the lack of ICU beds but “a clear shortage of intensive care staff,” in comments reported by AFP. Given the increasing number of new infections, clinical care will be focused on patients seriously ill with Corona, the hospital said. The news comes as Berlin’s daily Corona case rate continues to soar, with 443 new cases reported today and a seven-day incidence of 56.4 cases per 100,000 individuals, almost triple the rate for Germany as a whole (20.2). 

Berliners planning to head to the countryside over the Autumn break had their holiday plans wrecked today after Brandenburg announced an immediate ban on overnight stays by visitors from the capital. The state Health Ministry in Potsdam said the decision to bar tourists from staying at hotels, guesthouses, campsites and holiday apartments was due to the dramatic worsening of the Covid-19 situation in Berlin. Commuters, day trippers and those who can show a negative Corona test are not affected by the ban, which comes into effect today. A number of other German states including Bavaria have announced similar bans on tourists coming from domestic risk areas, meaning Berlin residents are in effect prohibited from staying in many parts of the country. 

The Liebig 34 squat in Friedrichshain was evicted by police this morning. Starting at 7am, officers used chainsaws and cutting equipment to gain access to the building and removed occupants via overhead walkways attached to balconies. A total of 57 people were forcibly removed from the house or left of their own accord. The operation was accompanied by loud protests, though officers in the building were met with less resistance than expected, according to reports by RBB. Police said that around 1500 protesters had gathered outside the house by early Friday morning, with 500 more protesters in the immediate vicinity. While there were some skirmishes, the protest remained largely non-violent according to reports. Liebig 34 was one of the few remaining left-wing squats in Berlin alongside nearby Rigaer Straße 94, itself the subject of eviction proceedings.

Travel chaos following renewed BVG strikes, S-Bahn disruption continues, bars attempt to overturn Covid curfew

Berlin’s public transport network ground to a halt again today after fresh strikes by BVG drivers. Led by union Verdi, the 24-hour period of industrial action means no buses, U-Bahn trains or trams operated by the city’s transport company will run before 3am on Saturday, though a limited number of privately operated bus services continued to operate today. According to the BVG, two million passengers have been affected by the strikes, which come during ongoing negotiations across Germany between transport companies and union officials seeking better pay and conditions for their 87,000 public transport workers. 

Travel disruption caused by today’s driver strike was compounded by severe disruption on the S-Bahn following Monday’s arson attacks targeting rail infrastructure. Passengers trying to reroute their journeys onto S-Bahn services unaffected by the strikes faced delays and cancellations, with the S41, S42, S8, S85 and S9 lines particularly affected. No trains are currently running between Neukölln and Ostkreuz stations, with services unlikely to be restored until Monday.

Six bars have launched a legal bid to quash Berlin’s imminent nightlife curfew. Lawyers for the venues submitted an urgent application to the Berlin Administrative Court today in an attempt to get the Senat’s new rules overturned. Starting midnight tonight, restaurants, bars, pubs and most shops will have to remain closed between 11pm and 6am as part of the city’s attempt to control a new wave of Covid infections. The timing means venues will have to close by 12am tonight.

Neukölln gives green light to patio heaters, Extinction Rebellion in new blockades

Cafes and bars in Neukölln will be allowed to operate patio heaters in outdoor areas, the local Bezirksamt announced on Thursday. Gastro venues will also be able to set up pavilions and other covered areas on pavements to allow guests to sit outside during the colder months. And while heaters will be allowed, the authorities have stipulated that they must be electrically powered, with traditional gas-fired heaters still prohibited. The district is hoping the decision will provide a lifeline to the struggling restaurant and bar industry, which has been hit by the nighttime curfew announced by the Senat this week.

Activists from climate group Extinction Rebellion barricaded the headquarters of a road construction company today as part of a programme of environmental protests across the city. Protestors glued themselves to the offices of Deges near Checkpoint Charlie in opposition to the firm’s involvement in the building of the A49 Autobahn in Hesse, which has resulted in the chopping down of nearby forests. According to a police spokeswoman, there were around 130 people gathered at the building this morning. The action follows a street protest by the group yesterday which saw around 200 people block a stretch of Friedrichstraße.