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  • Daily Berlin news update: Monday, July 13


Daily Berlin news update: Monday, July 13

Calls to rename Onkel Toms Hütte over racism, Corona app still missing key feature, drought threatens Spree, and clubs get €81,000 in city cash. Plus: drunk cyclist found on Autobahn.

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Calls to rename Onkel Toms Hütte, Corona app lacks key functionality, restrictions on sport dropped

The debate over the naming of Berlin streets and stations continues with a new call for U-Bahn station Onkel Toms Hütte to be renamed. So far over 1200 people have signed an online petition demanding the renaming of both the Zehlendorf metro station and the street, which are named after American author Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin, whose title character is a subservient black slave. While the book’s descriptions of the sufferings caused by slavery strengthened the abolitionist cause, the portrayal is now considered derogatory and is linked to racial epithets. The BVG has yet to respond to the petition.

In Berlin the Corona Warn App is missing a key feature because it is still not linked up with the city’s health authorities. Users of the app should be able to report being tested positive for Covid-19 by scanning the QR Code from their results letter with their phone. But since the local Gesundheitsämter haven’t set up the system for generating the QR Codes, app users have to call a telephone hotline to report positive results. The Senat Health Administration says it will be weeks before full functionality is made available.

The 1.5m-distancing rule will no longer apply to team and contact sports, Interior and Sport Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) announced today. This means the playing of the likes of judo and hockey is now practical once again, with particular relief for Berlin’s rowers who last week threatened to take the city government to court if it didn’t allow them to practice. The 1.5m distancing rule meant a de facto ban on such sports. The changes are set to be approved in a sitting of the Senat on July 21, and the law is to stipulate that people only practice contact sports with a regular group of people to avoid infections.

Clubs get emergency cash, Spree threatened by drought, rail punctuality soars

Clubs are set to receive an average of €81,000 in financial aid each as the Senat hands out its first tranche of culture funding. 38 Berlin clubs, festivals and organisers are to receive the cash, part of €30 million of emergency funding for theatres, clubs and event organisers first announced by Culture Senator Klaus Lederer (Left) in April. Among the clubs set to benefit are ://about blank, Cassiopeia, Sage, Tresor, Kater Blau, Schwuz, Rummels Bucht and Lido. More funding is set to follow after Lederer announced another €30 million in cash for the arts last month.

Despite what you might consider to be plentiful wet weather, Berlin and Brandenburg’s water reserves continue to be threatened by drought. The Spree is particularly under threat from falling annual rainfall, and while the problem is worst in the south of Brandenburg, Berlin is also affected with Grunewald’s once nature-rich Barssee lake having dried up due to falling groundwater levels. Brandenburg’s water management chief Sanny Merting explains the problem: “Some people think that everything is okay again because it rains every now and then…but the amounts of precipitation that are currently falling are so low that most of the water evaporates immediately.”

In the first half of this year 84 percent of Deutsche Bahn’s long-distance trains were on time, which the rail operator says is its best performance since 2008. This is a big improvement over the same period last year, where just 77 percent of trains arrived within six minutes of their schedule. One reason for the improvement is that there are simply fewer trains running: “Of course having fewer trains during the Corona crisis contributed to the significant increase in punctuality,” a Bahn spokesperson said on Sunday. Rail passenger numbers slumped by 90 percent during the peak of Germany’s Corona crisis.

Youth hostels reopen, drunk cyclist found on Autobahn

Youth hostels in Berlin and Brandenburg have begun to gradually reopen, with 11 of 19 facilities already welcoming visitors with more to follow. And with many people choosing to holiday closer to home this summer, things are looking up for the industry: “We are relatively well booked,” hostel association spokesman Marcus Hirschberg told the Tagesspiegel, adding that the bulk of bookings are from families and individuals as opposed to schools and youth groups.

Berlin police apprehended a drunk cyclist on Sunday night after he attempted to cycle on the Autobahn. A motorist noticed the 18-year-old on the Potsdam-Babelsberg junction of the A15 motorway and notified police. Officers conducted a breath test and found the man was five times over the drink-drive limit. Police say he will face charges.