Mayor criticises travel ban, police chief suggests tighter protest rules, weekend crowds dispersed as curfew introduced
Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller has criticised last week’s decision by German states to ban visits by domestic tourists in comments reported by the Tagesspiegel today. “This is neither effective nor understandable and creates one thing: confusion and lack of understanding,” the SPD politician said of the measures. A number of German states including Brandenburg and Bavaria have banned visitors from holidaying in their regions unless travellers can prove they have tested negative for Covid-19. The domestic travel industry has reacted to the measures with dismay, fearing huge economic repercussions. Particularly controversial are the restrictions on Berliners visiting Brandenburg: “There are hundreds of thousands of commuters [between Berlin and Brandenburg] every day, they meet each other in shops, on local transport and at work and yet a Berliner is not allowed to stay in Spreewald for two days – none of this makes sense,” Müller said in another interview with ZDF.
New restrictions on protests could be introduced if Berlin’s infection rate remains at the current level, the city’s chief of police said today. Speaking to the Morgenpost, Barbara Slowik suggested that the size of demonstrations could be limited to 100 people, as was previously the case in April. Currently there are no restrictions on protests, though rules on distancing and mask-wearing must be enforced for gatherings of more than 100 people. Slowik’s suggestion has met opposition from the Green party, the FDP and Die Linke as well as independent parliamentarian Marcel Luthe: “It is certainly not up to police leadership to demand restrictions on fundamental rights,” he said.
Police were monitoring bars, restaurants and off-licences over the weekend as Berlin’s new night-time curfew was put to the test. On Saturday night officers broke up large groups of people who had gathered on the street, including 50 people at a kiosk at Kottbusser Tor and 20 by a bar in Friedrichshain. Under the new rules, announced last week, only five people are allowed to gather outside after 11pm, during which venues serving food and drinks must remain closed.
Pop promises gastro support, video showing potential police violence investigated
Berlin’s embattled food and drink industry will receive additional financial aid to help it cope with the new night-time curfew, Economic Senator Ramona Pop has indicated. Though the details are yet to be hammered out, the Senat has agreed “to provide support for those food and drink businesses that are demonstrably suffering financial losses due to the new closing times,” the Green politician told the DPA yesterday. Last week a number of restaurateurs took legal action against the 11pm curfew, with a court decision expected by the end of this week.
Police are investigating after a video emerged showing an officer hitting a member of the public before pushing him to the ground. The video, which was liked over 2000 times on Twitter, was allegedly taken on Friday afternoon near Frankfurter Allee station in Friedrichshain, where a large police operation was underway following the eviction of the Liebig 34 squat. In the clip, a pair of men are standing next to two police officers when one officer starts to push and hit one of the men, bringing him to the ground before proceeding to hit him in the neck. The background to the video is unclear, with an investigation currently underway.
Brandenburg tourists reported to police, Ringbahn service restored
Police were called to the holiday home of a Berlin family last week after it was alleged that they had broken new rules on tourist visits. Officers visited the house where the family of four were staying in the Neuruppin area of Brandenburg, following a tip-off by a member of the public. Since Friday, Berlin residents have been banned from staying overnight in the countryside unless they can show a negative Covid-19 test. Police said the local health authority was investigating, though it appears the family will not face a fine since they had arrived on Thursday, before the new rules came into force.
S41 and S42 services on the Ringbahn were running again today following a cable fire which closed both S-Bahn lines last Monday. Trains were running continuously between Ostkreuz and Treptower Park, though at a reduced frequency. The S8 and S9 lines running via Schöneweide station and the S85 are still suspended, however.