Tempelhof–Schöneberg classified as risk area, Senat crackdown on outdoor parties, Extinction Rebellion in ministry blockade
Schleswig-Holstein added Tempelhof-Schöneberg to its list of Covid risk areas today as Berlin continues to struggle with a new surge in infections. The news means those travelling to the north German state from the districts of Tempelhof or Schöneberg will face 14 days in quarantine. The move follows Schleswig-Holstein’s decision on Friday to classify Mitte, Neukölln and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg as high risk. Meanwhile the number of daily Covid cases in Berlin remains elevated, with 301 new infections recorded today following the record increase of 339 on Friday.
Interior Senator Andreas Geisel has described the incidence of illegal parties in Berlin as “very worrying” and said the Senat would act against such gatherings. Speaking to Radioeins today, the SPD politician said that a ban on the sale of alcohol after 11pm was one option being considered by the coalition government. Over the weekend police broke up parties in three separate parks after several hundred people gathered for outdoor raves. The Senat is set to make a decision on its response on Tuesday.
Activists from Extinction Rebellion blocked access to government buildings this morning to mark the start of a week of climate protests. Demonstrators gathered outside the Federal Ministry of Transportation to protest against ongoing deforestation in the state of Hesse for a new stretch of Autobahn. Police carried activists away after entrances to the ministry were blocked. A further group of 30 demonstrators chained themselves to a livestock transporter in front of the Federal Agriculture Ministry to highlight the contribution of agriculture to climate change, while another 1200 took part in a city-centre march, billed as a “funeral procession of the dead trees”, which culminated in a gathering at Mitte’s Invalidenpark.
S-Bahn turmoil after arson attack, Swastika attack at synagogue
Berlin’s Staatsschutz state security unit is investigating after the Ringbahn was brought to a standstill following an arson attack. Police believe far-left activists started the fire on Monday morning at an S-Bahn signalling unit near Frankfurter Allee station. The act is being considered as politically motivated: in recent years there have been numerous similar attacks on railway infrastructure in the Ostkreuz area, with leftist groups often claiming responsibility via a website called “indymedia” that is popular in the scene. Eastbound trains were suspended all day, with the S41, S42, S45, S46, S47, S8, S85 and S9 all affected. Deutsche Bahn is hoping to have services back to normal by Tuesday.
Police are investigating after a Jewish document at a Berlin synagogue was smeared with swastika. Rabbi Reuven Yaacobov of the Schöneberg synagogue Tiferet Israel notified the police after discovering that a scroll had been removed and the anti-Semitic symbol scrawled on it. The news comes as a Jewish man sustained severe head injuries after being hit with a spade in a separate attack outside a synagogue in Hamburg on Sunday. Police say the suspected attacker was a resident of Berlin.
New Year’s Eve corona demonstration rejected, cafe warms guests with outdoor radiators
City authorities have rejected plans for a New Year’s Eve demonstration against the Coronavirus restrictions. On Friday Berlin police ruled out the gathering of the so-called “Querdenker” (“lateral thinkers”) because the street in question is to host this year’s Silvester celebrations instead. The Corona sceptics had planned to march down the Straße des 17. Juni towards the Brandenburg Gate in a headline grabbing event to end a year of anti-lockdown protests. The Querdenker group has held numerous rallies this summer, most notably by Lake Constance on Germany’s southern border.
A Prenzlauer Berg eatery has come up with an unorthodox plan to keep customers warm – building radiators into its outdoor seating. Guests of März Restaurant have the luxury of seating on the street-side radiators, the idea being that the venue can continue to seat customers outdoors even as winter sets in. According to the owner of the restaurant, the source of its outdoor heat is climate-neutral. The intriguing solution comes during an ongoing debate about whether to allow restaurants, bars and cafes to operate gas patio heaters on their terraces – a practice long prohibited in Berlin.