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  • Daily Berlin news update: Monday, September 7


Daily Berlin news update: Monday, September 7

Court orders removal of pop-up bike lanes, BER in urgent cash need, police shoot at speeding car, and private gatherings face stricter rules. Also today: charges dropped against taz journalist.

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Pop-up cycle lanes ruled unlawful, BER needs emergency cash, police shoot at speeding car

Berlin’s plan to usher in a new era of cycling came to an abrupt halt today after a bombshell ruling declaring the city’s pop-up cycle lanes to be unlawful. Announcing its decision, the Berlin Administrative Court said there were “serious doubts about the legality” of the temporary bike lanes, which were rolled out across the city by the Red-Red-Green coalition after the start of lockdown in March. The ruling was brought about by a complaint against the lanes filed by the AfD in June and means the Senat will be forced to remove eight of the lanes immediately. Responding to its court victory, AfD transport spokesman Frank Scholtysek said the decision was “a win for individual mobility against car hate.” The Senat is set to appeal the ruling, which is a serious blow for its plans to make the recently installed cycle lanes permanent.

More BER bad news: Berlin’s new airport needs an emergency injection of €300 million by October in order to stay solvent, the federal government says. While the city’s new hub is on track for its October 31 opening, airport operator FBB faces a dire financial situation as Covid-19 continues to batter the air travel business. Federal Finance Secretary Bettina Hagedorn (SPD) is requesting an immediate transfer of the money, which was promised by the federal government but has yet to be approved due to state aid concerns. Weighed down by debt due to the repeatedly delayed construction of BER, FBB faces a €1.5 billion shortfall by 2024 if passenger numbers do not recover. The Federal Budget Committee is set to give the green light for the funding on Wednesday.

Police opened fire on a suspected illegal road racer on Saturday night after the driver accelerated towards them. The officers stopped the Mercedes at Gesundbrunnen after it was seen driving through the city at high speeds. The driver surged towards the police as they approached his vehicle on foot, leading them to shoot at the car. Despite the shots the racer was able to drive off before abandoning the vehicle near the Schillerpark in Wedding. Investigators are now looking for the Mercedes driver, who faces charges of attempted homicide. The officers were unhurt in the incident.

Stricter rules for private parties, first demonstrations under new mask rule, Senat defends BVG’s joint joke

Groups gathering for private celebrations such as weddings and birthday parties now face stricter infection-control rules after new changes by the Senat came into force on Saturday. Organisers of gatherings of 50 or more people must ensure adherence to 1.5m distancing rules and have policies in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Previously the rules had not explicitly applied to private gatherings. The new rules will also require restaurants to register diners seated outdoors, with fines for businesses providing false or incomplete information.

This weekend saw the first demonstrations organised under the city’s new mask rule for protestors. Hundreds of people took part in several gatherings across the city on Saturday, with police reporting that the new rules were generally being followed. Most of the protests were small, such as the “Für den sozialen Frieden” (“For Social Peace”) event which saw 200 participants gather. The new rules – introduced after 30,000 Corona sceptics gathered on August 31 – require attendees of public gatherings with more than 100 participants to wear a mouth-and-nose covering in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Berlin’s Senat has defended the BVG after the transport authority posted a tweet about the start of the school term that featured an image of a cannabis cigarette. The tweet, part of the BVG’s light-hearted “Weil wir dich lieben” campaign, was poking fun at the social make-up of different U-Bahn lines, but the AfD was not amused and demanded the Senat comment on the post. In a statement officials said the post “depicted the reality of life for some BVG passengers” and fell under “freedom of opinion and artistic freedom of the BVG.”

Berlin Art Week returns, taz journalist will not face charges over column

Berlin Art Week is back on Wednesday with a special 2020 Corona edition. Galleries and venues are limiting visitor numbers, with guests required to register their attendance for most events. Other exhibitions are heading outside, with outdoor sculptures and shows as well as a digital companion programme. While a full programme will go ahead, the Covid-19 measures mean visitor numbers will be significantly down on last year.

Journalist Hangameh Yaghoobifarah will not face charges for a controversial article in which it was stated that police should be sent to work at a refuse dump. The Tagesspiegel is reporting today that prosecutors are not pursuing the charges of slander or incitement of the people previously under consideration. After the article was published by taz in June Interior Minister Horst Seehofer (CSU) accused Yaghoobifarah of having committed a criminal offence because of the words used.