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  • Daily Berlin news update: Friday, September 4


Daily Berlin news update: Friday, September 4

Senator considers shorter quarantine, restaurants demand patio heaters, tougher rules for e-scooters, and Elon Musk visits Brandenburg factory. Plus: several infected at sex party.

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Health Senator suggests shorter quarantine, protest mask rule set for first test, restaurants in patio heater call

The 14-day quarantine period for those infected with coronavirus could be shortened,  Berlin’s Health Senator Dilek Kalayci has suggested. Speaking to the DPA today, Kalayci pointed to new evidence on the risks. “There are different scientific studies and experience from other European countries [suggesting quarantine could] change from 14 to 10 days, for example.” The Senat has commissioned the Robert Koch Institute to study how infectious Corona patients remain after different time intervals. Speaking separately to ZDF the SPD politician said that shortening the period of isolation would be a relief to those affected. “For many people, the 14-day quarantine is a very big challenge when Kitas, schools, parents and employers are affected,” Kalayci said this morning.

The Senat’s newly-introduced mask rule for demonstrations will be put to the test this weekend as protestors take to the streets once again. Left-wing party Die Linke has planned three separate bike protests in Prenzlauer Berg, Kreuzberg and Friedrichshain under the banner “Wem gehört die Stadt?” (“Who owns the city?”) for Saturday, while on Sunday 500 protesters are set to gather at the Brandenburg Gate to call for peace in Kurdistan. Police will be present at each of the events to enforce the new restrictions. The Senat approved the new rules – stipulating that all protestors have to wear face coverings – in the wake of last weekend’s controversial demonstration against the coronavirus restrictions.

There was disagreement this week after cafes and restaurants demanded temporary permission to use outdoor patio heaters in response to the Covid-19 restrictions. Berlin’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) is proposing giving venues temporary licences to operate the gas heaters so they can continue to fill their outdoor spaces in the colder months. The IHK suggested that businesses could pay a climate levy to compensate for the emissions. But politicians have dismissed the idea as environmentally inacceptable. “Every extra gram [of CO2] that gets blown into the air brings us closer to the edge of the catastrophe,” said Monika Herrmann, the Green district mayor of Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg, in an interview with the Morgenpost yesterday. The so-called Heizpilze have been banned in many Berlin districts since 2009 due to their climate impact.

Crackdown on rental scooters, Elon Musk dismisses Grünheide concerns

Berlin is set to toughen the rules on operators of e-scooters and rental bikes, the Senat indicated this week. In a change in approach, mobility providers will in future have to pay to park their vehicles on the street and will face stricter rules. Previously the city had taken a light-touch approach to the rental companies, but frequent complaints that the vehicles were blocking pavements has led to the rethink. Details of the new rules have yet to be agreed, though the Left Party’s parliamentary grouping has demanded that the scooters only be parked on pavements at least 4m wide, with operators forced to remove illegally parked vehicles within six hours.

Elon Musk brushed off environmental concerns relating to his Tesla factory in Grünheide during a visit to the site on Thursday. The tech entrepreneur has been on a tour of Germany this week in a bid to sure up support as Tesla prepares to begin car production in the Brandenburg factory next year. Speaking in Grünheide, Musk dismissed concerns over the site’s high water use. “The trees here would not grow if there was no water,” he said. The Tesla and SpaceX boss praised the rapid pace of the work at the site, which is set to build up to 500,000 Tesla vehicles a year when it opens in summer 2021.

Covid outbreak at sex party, python found in playground

In Mitte several people tested positive and hundreds were put at risk of infection after a coronavirus outbreak during a sex party last week. Speaking to the Morgenpost today Mitte councillor for health Ephraim Gothe (SPD) confirmed the party in question was a private gathering attended by a number of people from outside Germany. “This was a super-spreading event,” Gothe said, without confirming exact numbers. A total of 73 new Corona infections were reported in Mitte last week with 442 people ordered to go into quarantine. 

An unwelcome guest at the playground: a baby python was discovered at a children’s play area in Tempelhof on Thursday, Berlin police announced on Twitter. Officers were alerted to the snake and handed it over to a reptile expert for further care. Pythons are non-venomous and kill their prey by constricting them – making this example harmless to humans. The royal python species is native to West and Central Africa, and with a length of up to two meters at adulthood is the smallest representative of the python family. It remains unclear how the python got into the playground.