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  • Berlin news update: Monday, January 25


Berlin news update: Monday, January 25

New Covid variant found in three Berlin hospitals, 1000 troops helping struggling authorities, Senat promises 3.5 million free face masks, police break up 55-guest wedding and nightlife to return "in 2022".

Image for Berlin news update: Monday, January 25

The new more contagious variant of Covid-19 has been discovered at three Berlin hospitals. Photo: Hoch3media / Unsplash

Thousands in quarantine after new variant found in hospitals, 1000 troops supporting Berlin’s Covid effort, 3.5 million masks for low-income groups

Almost 2000 people are in quarantine after the new strain of Covid-19 was detected at three Berlin hospitals. As of today at least 25 patients and staff at at Charité, the Vivantes hospital in Spandau and the Humboldt-Klinikum had tested positive for the B117 variant of the virus, which was first discovered in the UK. The first cases were found at Reinickendorf’s Humboldt-Klinikum on Saturday, leading it to be closed to new patients. Around 1500 doctors, nurses and medical staff working at the site are now in self-isolation at home, while 400 patients are being treated in isolation. The B117 variant is thought to be between 50 and 70 percent more transmissible than other variants.

A total of 1000 Bundeswehr soldiers are currently deployed in Berlin to provide assistance during the Corona pandemic, new figures show. In one of the largest deployments of troops in the capital since German reunion, hundreds of soldiers have been sent to support overwhelmed local authorities. “They are assisting with contact tracing, the Corona hotline, supporting care facilities, operating vaccination centres and mobile vaccination teams and helping run the vaccination hotline,” a spokesperson for the military told the DPA today. A further 350 soldiers are stationed in the city’s nursing homes, helping carry out Corona rapid tests amongst other tasks.

Berlin is to give out 3.5 million face masks free of charge to people on low incomes starting today, the Senate has said. As well as 680,000 jobseekers with a Berlinpass, homeless people, students and apprentices are also entitled to a supply of surgical coverings. The scheme comes after the introduction of new rules on Sunday requiring FFP2 or surgical masks to be worn on public transport and in shops. Those who qualify for the free masks should check the website of their local authority for the nearest collection point.

Police break up wedding party with 55 guests, club chief predicts 2022 return for nightlife, 75 percent fall in hospitality revenues  

On Sunday police broke up a wedding party of 55 guests who had gathered at a Reinickendorf flat. A neighbour called the police after seeing large numbers of people arriving at the flat in the north Berlin district. Officers entered the residence and removed a total of 12 children and 43 adults, who now face charges for violation of the Infection Protection Act. Under current Covid-19 rules members of one household may meet with no more than one person from another household.

Berlin’s clubs are unlikely to fully reopen until the end of 2022, the head of the city’s Clubcommission suggested yesterday. Speaking to DPA, Pamela Schobeß said “It can’t go from zero to a hundred,” and suggested a phased reopening of the city’s nightlife venues. Schobeß, who also runs Kreuzberg club Gretchen, predicted that the tourists upon whom many clubs are dependent would be reticent to return immediately. According to Schobeß, artists who had been booked for events in March were already seeing their gigs postponed until 2022.

Berlin’s hospitality industry continues to be hit hard by the coronavirus restrictions: official figures published today reveal that revenues at the city’s restaurants and hotels for November 2020 were down 75 percent on the same period in 2019. The sector in Brandenburg reported a lesser year-on-year drop of 52 per cent. Germany introduced a partial lockdown in November forcing the closure of restaurants, bars and cafes with the exception of takeaway and delivery services.