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  • Daily Berlin news update: Monday, July 20


Daily Berlin news update: Monday, July 20

Overseas arrivals to face stricter rules, call to extend Sunday shopping, bomb diffused in Neukölln as vegan chef faces charges. Also: Mietendeckel brings tenants €100 rent reduction.

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New rules for arrivals into Berlin, call for more Sunday shopping, World War II bomb defused in Neukölln

Senator for Health Dilek Kalayci (SPD) wants to tighten up rules for people arriving into Berlin from countries considered to be Corona risk areas, according to weekend reports. In addition to complying with the current 14-day quarantine rule, passengers coming into Germany from risk areas – which include the U.S., Israel and Luxembourg – could now be required to take an immediate Covid-19 test on arrival. At present inbound passengers are requested to pay for their own test before going into self-isolation, though the rule has proved difficult to enforce. The issue is to be discussed this Wednesday at a meeting of federal and state health ministers. 

Berlin’s Economic Senator Ramona Pop wants to allow shops to open at least one Sunday a month to help boost Berlin’s ailing retail sector. Normally, shops can open on eight Sundays a year, typically around major holidays or events. And while retail trade union Verdi is against the proposals, retailers see an opportunity. “For retailers, everything is at stake at the moment. Any additional boost for sales is vital for survival,” said Nils Busch-Petersen of the Berlin-Brandenburg Retail Association. Germany’s strict Sunday trading laws will limit any proposed changes. “Of course we are bound by the law and cannot allow all Sundays to be open for retailers,” the Green politician told the Berliner Morgenpost in an interview yesterday. 

More than 1700 people have been evacuated from their homes after a World War II bomb was found in the Neukölln district of Britz. A 500m radius was cleared today while bomb disposal officers diffused the British-built device, which was discovered on Friday morning during construction work on a residential street. Residents in the immediate surroundings have been in emergency accommodation all weekend but can now return home after the bomb was successfully disabled this afternoon.

Vegan chef to face charges, firefighters warned on distancing, green light for indoor choirs

Cookbook author Attila Hildmann is facing charges of “incitement of the people” in Brandenburg following a number of controversial statements and a threat made against a Green Party politician. In June Hildmann – well known for his conspiracy theories – made a number of antisemitic comments to his online followers including that a “Jewish tribe” sought to destroy Germany and that Adolf Hitler had only tried to “protect” Germans. In addition to the investigation by prosecutors in Cottbus, Berlin is also looking into whether it has grounds to pursue Hildmann for his statements at a number of rallies.

This month Neukölln firefighters were surprised to receive a letter from bosses accusing them of failing to adhere to physical distancing rules. In the letter from the Fire Service Directorate published in the B.Z. this week, Neukölln crews were accused of having ignored Corona conduct rules for firefighters. “In the event of a repeat [breach], the directorate reserves the right to take disciplinary action against you.” The warning comes after a firefighter in Neukölln tested positive for Covid-19 two weeks ago, resulting in an entire unit being released from duties whilst testing was carried out.

Good news for singers: the Senat is set to give choirs the go ahead to meet indoors this week, according to reports in the Tagesspiegel. Choirs were previously only able to meet outdoors as singing is considered to present a high risk of Covid-19 transmission. The Senat will hear from experts on the matter tomorrow before setting out the new rules.

Third of tenants entitled to rent reduction, BER bus links confirmed, shake up for allotments

Berlin tenants are entitled to an average rent reduction of almost €100 under the city’s rent cap, landlord association BFW has estimated. A third of those living in BFW members’ 35,000 apartments are entitled to rent reductions, resulting in a loss of rental income of €1 million a month for landlords. Announcing the survey, the BFW said that landlords were cutting investments in buildings in response, with €145 million less invested since the Mietendeckel. Quoted in the Tagesspiegel, the organisation’s head Susanne Klabe said the rent cap would have “fatal consequences for housing and employees in Berlin’s construction industry.”

Forty-eight minutes from Bahnhof Zoo to BER – that’s courtesy of the N7X bus that will run all night from Berlin’s West to the new airport from November 2. The service is set to run every quarter of an hour to bring passengers and staff to the terminals for their early departures. The east of the city will also have a direct night link with the N60 bus that connects Alexanderplatz with the hub. Most of those flying during the day will take the train, with the current RE7 and RB14 services supplemented by a new half-hourly airport express (FEX) which will run from Hauptbahhof via Gesundbrunnen and Ostkreuz. This should ensure a daytime service every 15 minutes from Mitte.

A new bill is set to enshrine the protection of Berlin’s allotments in law, as the government seeks to assuage the city’s ruffled Kleingarten owners. Speaking to the Tagesspiegel on Sunday, SPD politician Daniel Buchholz confirmed plans to prevent allotments from being built on, extending the protection of some 20 sites previously earmarked for development for at least 10 years. The law also seeks to make more of the gardens – many of which are state owned – open to the public and force tenants to use their green spaces in more environmentally friendly ways.