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  • Berlin news update: Monday, February 15


Berlin news update: Monday, February 15

Thousands take to the ice under police watch, Müller promises lockdown easing, fifth vaccination centre to open, BVG increases bus and tram numbers and police called to online club event.

Image for Berlin news update: Monday, February 15

Thousands took to ice on Berlin’s frozen lakes and canals over the weekend. Photo: IMAGO / Hohlfeld

Berliners take to the ice under police watch, Müller promises easing of lockdown rules 

The police were out in force again today as thousands took to ice on Berlin’s frozen lakes and canals. At the weekend police helicopters were seen flying low over the ice at Müggelsee, Lietzensee and the Rummelsburger Bucht, with dramatic footage from Saturday showing an aircraft hovering metres over the heads of walkers and skaters. Several people have reportedly fallen through the ice, including a man and his one-year-old baby when the ice gave way as they were walking on the Schlachtensee lake on Saturday. The pair were airlifted to hospital. Meanwhile police broke up an impromptu rave on the Landwehrcanal in Kreuzberg on Sunday afternoon after dozens of people gathered on the ice to dance. The DJ was subsequently questioned by officers.  

Berlin mayor Michael Müller has promised to set out a step-by-step plan for the relaxing of the coronavirus restrictions including reopening restaurants, shops and sports venues when conditions allow. Speaking to ZDF television on Sunday, Müller indicated that a schedule of revised rules developed by the Senat would form a part of discussions between Germany’s state leaders and the federal government due to be held on March 3. According to Berlin’s proposals, restrictions could be eased as soon as the seven-day Covid-19 incidence falls below 35 cases per 100,000 people. Berlin’s seven-day average currently stands at 57.4.

B117 variant could become dominant, fifth vaccination centre to open

The B117 coronavirus variant first detected in the UK could soon become the dominant form of the virus in Berlin, health senator has Dilek Kalayci warned. Of the 409 cases of virus variants recorded in the capital, 361 were B117. “We have to assume that this variant could take over as soon as March and certainly by April,” Kalayci told the health committee of the Abgeordnetenhaus today. At present around 10 percent of Covid-19 cases in Berlin are caused by one of the virus mutations.

Berlin’s fifth vaccination centre is to commence operations this Wednesday, operators announced today. The Velodrom cycling centre in Prenzlauer Berg will be open daily from 9am to 2pm to administer vaccines made by US manufacturer Moderna. A total of six vaccination centres are planned across the city: Arena in Treptow, Messe Berlin in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, the Erika-Heß-Eisstadion in Wedding plus two centres at the former Tegel and Tempelhof airports.

Boost for buses and trams, police called to live streamed party

The BVG is displaying more buses and trams on the streets starting today in order to reduce crowding. Up to 100 additional buses will run on the 50 most heavily used routes, with eight additional tram sets to be introduced on the busy M5 and M8 lines to provide extra capacity. Meanwhile from February 22 around 100 security guards are to be deployed at public transport stops and on board trains and buses to prevent overcrowding and ensure passengers follow the Covid-19 procedures. 

Police were left red faced at the weekend after officers were deployed to an illegal club party which turned out to be an online stream. At around 9.30pm on Saturday a woman placed an emergency call to police to report a party of over 200 guests at Magdalena club in Friedrichshain. It was only after officers had surrounded the venue that a club employee emerged and made it clear that the club night was in fact an online stream that was being watched by 200 users at home.