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  • Daily Berlin news update: Monday, August 3

Berlin

Daily Berlin news update: Monday, August 3

Senator resigns after tax oversight, Covid tests for coach passengers, police shut down 20,000-strong Corona protest, and left-wing march ends in scuffles. Plus the latest on the Neulich pub outbreak.

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Housing Senator Katrin Lompscher resigns, Corona testing at bus terminal 

The Left Party’s Katrin Lompscher has stepped down from her position as Housing Senator after it emerged that she failed to pay tax on all her income. Announcing the surprise decision yesterday, Lompscher admitted that she neglected to declare the income from her work on the supervisory boards of three city-owned companies between 2017 and 2019. “I bear personal responsibility for these omissions and apologise for them,” the Senator said in the announcement. “I assure you that I did not act with intent,” she said. The Left Party said it will wait before putting forward a replacement for Lompscher, who was instrumental in introducing the Mietendeckel at the beginning of 2020.

From today, people arriving from Corona risk areas by coach will be able to use a Covid-19 test station at Berlin’s ZOB bus station. Run by the German Red Cross, the station offers tests free of charge to arriving passengers, whether they have symptoms of the virus or not. The news comes following confusion at Tegel and Schönefeld airports on Friday after it emerged that the testing stations in the terminals were only open to passengers with smartphones and an internet connection. The city had previously said that a smartphone was not required.

Thousands of Corona deniers attend demonstration, scuffles during Neukölln protests, Neulich outbreak “under control”

More than 20,000 protestors gathered in Mitte on Saturday to demonstrate against the coronavirus restrictions. Police put a stop to the demonstration and arrested 133 people after organisers failed to ensure the crowds adhered to distancing rules. In attendance were a wide mix of protestors from across Germany, from student hippies to AfD and NPD adherents. Senator of the Interior Andreas Geisel (SPD) criticised the rally on Twitter: “What we experienced today was irrational beyond measure,” he said on Saturday. The protestors’ flagrant breach of distancing rules has reignited debate over how to manage demonstrations during the pandemic, with the head of the Berlin Greens Benedikt Lux calling for swift police action against unauthorised protests

There was a heavy police presence across Neukölln on Saturday night after scuffles broke out between officers and around 2000 left-wing protestors who had gathered in opposition to forced evictions. In what was originally planned as a cycle demonstration, participants marched from Herrfurthplatz through Schillerkiez leading police to block off numerous roads, including part of Hermannstraße. There were confused scenes after various groups split off and some protesters threw stones at officers and attacked cars and buildings, including the local party office of the SPD.

District officials in Neukölln say the Corona outbreak that started at Neulich bar two weeks ago is now “under control” after most of those exposed to the virus were identified. A total of 22 people were infected after the virus spread amongst pub goers who drank at the bar between July 16–18. In total, more than 70 people have been quarantined since the outbreak, with efforts to locate those at risk hampered by the venue’s failure to ensure guests completed mandatory attendance forms on arrival. The Gesundheitsamt was unable to track down many individuals as they had provided insufficient details or simply neglected to register. Berlin hotel and restaurant association Dehoga criticised restaurants and pubs for not being strict enough with their guests.