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  • Daily Berlin news update: Friday, September 11

Berlin

Daily Berlin news update: Friday, September 11

Corona cases hit five-month high, disaster warning test fails, Görli homeless tent set alight, and protestors picket extremist AfD gathering.

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Corona cases hit five-month high, emergency warning day deemed a flop, arrest after homeless tent set on fire

Berlin continues to see larger jumps in daily reported Covid-19 cases, with 126 new infections reported today. Yesterday the city recorded the highest daily jump in Covid-19 cases since April, with 139 new infections reported. Such figures have not been seen since the first peak of the pandemic, where on April 9 145 new cases were recorded. Despite the growth in cases, Berlin’s seven-day R-rate of 0.85 remains under the German average of 1.04.

A nationwide test of Germany’s disaster warning system was deemed a failure after it encountered numerous technical problems, with Berlin the worst affected area. Yesterday’s Warntag was the first testing of the emergency system – meant to alert the population to terrorism and natural disasters – since German reunification, but the mobile phone apps that are a key part of the network failed to alert users at 11am as expected. Berlin is particularly reliant on the apps since its network of outdoor sirens was decommissioned after the end of the Cold War. Christoph Unger, President of the Federal Office for Disaster Relief (BBK), said the network became overloaded when large numbers of warnings were initiated at the same time. “The system could not cope,” Unger said.

A man was arrested on Tuesday night after a tent occupied by two homeless people was set on fire. The rough sleepers were camping in Görlitzer Park when the drunk man approached their tent and kicked one of them before setting the structure alight. The couple were able to extinguish the fire and restrain the man before police arrived. Acts of violence are on the up in the Kreuzberg park, with a ten percent year-on-year increase in incidents of actual bodily harm. A similar attack on homeless people in Tiergarten at the end of August saw two occupants injured after their tent was set alight.  

Protests as AfD’s right wing meets, gun found in Tiergarten court

Protests are planned in response to a meeting of members of AfD’s right wing due to take place this evening. Set to take place in Hoppegarten on the outskirts of Berlin, the event will see figures from both local and national AfD groupings come together. Thuringian AfD faction leader Björn Höcke is amongst those due to appear at the event, which will reportedly be on the subject of Covid-19. A persistent sceptic of the coronavirus measures, Höcke is a member of the extremist wing of the AfD that has been monitored by the Verfassungsschutz for its disparaging and xenophobic rhetoric about immigrants. Around people are expected to demonstrate against the gathering under the banner “Höcke kommt. Wir auch!”

Police have launched an investigation after a cleaner found a gun in a rubbish bin in the Tiergarten District Court building. The weapon – reportedly an air rifle – was found amongst litter in a hallway between two of the courtrooms during routine cleaning on Tuesday. Weapons are not permitted inside the courts, with strict police checks on people entering the building. Investigations will seek to determine if the presence of the gun is linked to a specific trial held in the court.