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  • Berlin news update: Wednesday, January 20

Berlin

Berlin news update: Wednesday, January 20

Lockdown extended until February, new mask rules, fresh cases of UK variant, Police raid Neukölln house party, man arrested for throwing snowballs at US Embassy and U-Bahn graffiti artists caught in the act.

Image for Berlin news update: Wednesday, January 20

Two alleged graffiti artists were arrested on Tuesday night after pulling the emergency break near Otisstraße U-Bahn station on the U6 line. Photo: Bekky Bekks / Unsplash

Lockdown extended until February, new mask rules, fresh cases of UK variant

Angela Merkel and Germany’s 16 state premiers yesterday agreed to extend and strengthen the current national lockdown until February 14. Nothing will change for the gyms, sports halls and shops that have been closed since December, but authorities have    further encouraged companies to allow their staff to work from home until March 15. By making home office mandatory, leaders hope to relieve pressure on public transport. “Now is the time to take preventive measures against the threat of this virus,” Merkel said.

Yesterday’s national meeting also confirmed a new mask rule for shops and public transport. Anyone who goes shopping or uses public transport must wear a medical-grade face covering, such as an FFP2 respirator or a surgical mask. A similar requirement has been in place in Bavaria since Monday. Compared to cloth masks, these medical-grade masks better protect the wearer

More cases of the highly contagious UK variant of the coronavirus have been discovered. Three patients with the B117 mutation were diagnosed during routine screening at the Vivantes Humboldt Clinic in Reinickendorf. None of the patients had a history of travel, which may suggest B117 has been active in Berlin for longer than previously thought. European countries are using increased border checks to combat newly discovered strains, but Angela Merkel has threatened border closures if they aren’t managed effectively. “If countries should decide to take different paths… you have to be ready to say then, we’ll have to reintroduce border controls,” she said. “We don’t want that.”

Police raid Neukölln house party, man arrested for throwing snowballs at US Embassy, U-Bahn graffiti artists caught in the act

Not everyone is taking the lockdown seriously: Police on Tuesday broke up a house party in Neukölln with 21 guests. Authorities visited the Buckow residence at around 11pm and found balloons and flowers decorating the hallways. Police allege few of the attendees wore masks, including the home owner, who allegedly insulted the attending officers. One man has been charged and all guests may face fines.

Police detained a man for allegedly throwing snowballs at the US Embassy on Tuesday. The 26-year-old man threw snowballs and other projectiles while shouting slogans about outgoing President Donald Trump, police say. He was taken to hospital after briefly knocking himself out on a police car, but returned to the embassy hours later, where he was eventually arrested.

Two alleged graffiti artists were arrested on Tuesday night after pulling the emergency break near Otisstraße U-Bahn station on the U6 line. After stopping the train, they painted a large portion of the car, before spraying the investigating train driver in the face with paint. One of the painters police apprehended was found with keys to private BVG and Deutsche Bahn facilities.