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  • Berlin news update: Wednesday, February 10

Berlin

Berlin news update: Wednesday, February 10

Lockdown extended to March 7, new law for Berlin demos drafted, man rescued while ice swimming, electric busses struggle with cold temperatures and public transport frequency to increase.

Image for Berlin news update: Wednesday, February 10

Angela Merkel and Germany’s state leaders have agreed to extend the current lockdown until March 7. Photo: IMAGO / Jens Schicke

Lockdown extended to March 7, new law for Berlin demos drafted, man rescued while ice swimming

Angela Merkel and Germany’s state leaders have agreed to extend the current lockdown until March 7. Shops, theatres and restaurants will remain closed, but hairdressers will be allowed to reopen under strict hygiene conditions on March 1. Saxony State Premier Michael Kretschmer said after the Wednesday meeting that other measures may be relaxed when the seven-day incidence drops to 35 new cases per 100,000 residents. “We have to be extremely cautious that we don’t get into this exponential growth spiral again,” Merkel said.

A draft of a new law governing political demonstrations will be discussed in Berlin’s House of Representatives on Thursday. The draft, which aims to make it easier to demonstrate, proposes that police only be present when “necessary”, and places more emphasis on deescalation. If the law goes through, demonstrations will be permitted on private streets and squares. Listing the ban on non-medical face coverings will also be discussed.

A man was rescued in a Treptower Park pond after failing to resurface while swimming between two holes in the ice. Around 50 firefighters descended on the pond this morning, using diving gear, drones and rescue equipment to pull the swimmer out. As Berliner Zeitung reports, the swimmer was in a group of three men who had allegedly just left a party. “We can only urge people who want to go ice bathing to contact clubs,” a fire department spokesperson said.

Bus and tram frequency to increase, electric busses struggle with cold temperatures 

The Senat has decided to increase the frequency of buses and trams on more almost 60 lines throughout the city. Authorities hope this will increase congestion during popular hours and allow for better social distancing. The BVG has announced around 100 extra buses will be made available across 50 bus lines, while eight additional trams will be in action on the M5 and M8/18 tram lines.

The cold temperatures have affected the performance of Berlin’s growing fleet of electric busses. Batteries were insufficiently charged due to ice-cold weather, a BVG spokesperson explained. According to the manufacturer, a fully charged bus should have the ability to travel at least 130km at  -10°C, so a solution is being sought. In the meantime, the affected buses will be replaced by their fuel-powered counterparts. The spokesperson said only a handful of busses, or less than 2 percent of the entire fleet, were affected.