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  • Berlin news update: Wednesday, December 9


Berlin news update: Wednesday, December 9

Berlin ponders tougher restrictions, Mercedes-Benz workers protest, Friedrichstraße to stay car-free, Drosten publishes clubs study and environmental concerns halt work at Tesla plant.

Image for Berlin news update: Wednesday, December 9

An injunction brought by environmentalists has forced Tesla to suspend forest clearing threatening local lizards and snakes. Photo: Molgreen / Creative Commons

Health senator calls for stronger restrictions, Mercedes-Benz workers protest, Friedrichstraße to stay car-free

Berlin’s Senator for Health Dilek Kalayci (SPD) has called for an urgent tightening of the current coronavirus restrictions. Under new proposals to be decided by the Senat, non-essential shops may be forced to close between December 26 and January 10. Kalayci noted that, while new infections have slowed, the city is still in a critical situation, and residents must further limit their contacts. “That didn’t happen with lockdown light,” she said, while stressing that employees should be allowed to work from home whenever possible. Kalayci’s comments arrived as Germany experienced its deadliest day since the pandemic began, with 590 deaths on Tuesday.    

Hundreds of employees of Berlin’s Mercedes-Benz plant demonstrated in Marienfelde today. More than half of the plant’s approximately 2500 jobs are at stake as the car manufacturer modernises its factory systems, spokespeople representing the plant’s workers say. Company heads admit that modernisation will go “hand-in-hand” with fewer jobs. Founded in 1902, the Marienfelde location is the oldest manufacturing plant in the Daimler Group, the company behind Mercedes-Benz.

A section of Friedrichstraße may remain car-free until at least October 2021. A 500-metre strip between Französische Straße  and Leipziger Straße was due to reopen to car traffic in January, but Traffic Senator Regine Günther (Greens) is in talks with local authorities about extending the project. Günther also brought up the possibility of restricting traffic on the nearby Unter den Linden, where an extra bike lane is planned. 

Drosten wants clubs to stay closed, animals halt work on Tesla plant

A new study headed by celebrity virologist Christian Drosten has backed the closure of Berlin’s clubs. The collaborative effort between the Robert Koch Institute, Charité and local health authorities examined the coronavirus outbreak at the Trompete club earlier this year, finding that 74 people were infected at the Tiergarten venue between February 29 and March 5, including more than half its 16 employees. According to the study, only one person experienced coronavirus symptoms before visiting the venue. The findings also stressed the need to protect club staff whenever clubs do reopen.  

An injunction brought by environmentalists has forced Tesla to suspend forest clearing threatening local lizards and snakes. Two nature conservation groups took their complaints to an administrative court in Frankfurt (Oder), which issued an interim injunction as authorities take a closer look at the situation. Tesla must cease clearing forest until a final decision by the Brandenburg state chapter of the Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) and Green League. For more on Tesla’s Brandenburg factory, read our piece from earlier this year.