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  • Daily Berlin Corona update: Monday, April 6

Berlin

Daily Berlin Corona update: Monday, April 6

As Berlin nears 4000 cases, Mayor Michael Müller writes a letter. The Senat rejects compulsory masks and the US embassy rejects claims of modern piracy.

Image for Daily Berlin Corona update: Monday, April 6

As of Monday night, the officially confirmed number of Corona infections in Berlin lies at 3862.

  • There are 3862 confirmed cases in Berlin, which is up by 376 from Friday.
  • Of those infected, 1945 are male, 1896 are female. Twelve did not specify their gender.
  • 527 people are currently in hospital as a result of the virus. 133 are in intensive care.
  • Twenty-eight people have died from the coronavirus, their average age was 81 years.
  • Berlin Health Senator Dilek Kalayci has announced today that the city’s Corona death rate has gone up from 0.7 percent to 1.5 percent within the past week.

Week three!

Here we go, it’s the third week of federal and city administered isolation slash social distancing and Mayor Michael Müller thought it was time to write a letter. Nearly 2.2 million households will receive his epistle this week. City hall is excited, they’ve even tweeted a little video of the letters being printed. Spoiler: Müller urges Berliners to stay home, thanks those who keep the basic services running and promises to help those concerned about their jobs and livelihoods. The back of the document contains official help line numbers.  

The mayor is not the only one who has a message to Berliners these days. The police were so happy with people sticking to the safety regulations they walked around Britzer Garten in Neukölln with a megaphone, thanking everyone for their help in keeping the virus under control (while admitting they “normally like to tell people off”). The rare moment was captured and tweeted by the police themselves. Still, almost 10 percent of those 2400 Berliners checked by the police on Sunday were fined, the police chief said today.

Health Senator Kalayci had to make a different kind of announcement: It’s safe to go to the emergency room! The senator said she was worried emergency wards “don’t have enough to do” because Berliners who should urgently be seeking medical help are scared of catching the coronavirus. She assured that the city’s eight Corona testing centres were seperate from the general emergency services. 

The mask saga continues

In session this morning, the Senat’s health committee rejected the AfD’s proposal to make wearing protective masks compulsory in public places such as supermarkets. Meanwhile, the health senator conceded that, while masks don’t offer 100 percent protection for those wearing them, they could protect others in case the mask wearer does contract the virus. Hence her latest verdict: It makes sense to wear them! (Kind of.) The Robert Koch Institute adjusted its position last week and stated that wearing a mask can indeed slow down the spread of the virus, but the WHO remains uncertain.

All the more annoying that the US government hijacked that delivery of 200.000 masks meant for Berlin, right? The masks, ordered from China by the Berlin police, had ‘disappeared’ from Bangkok airport: “Our masks have ended up in the USA. And that’s not okay,” Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) said, also pointing out that they had already been paid for and spoke of “modern piracy”. The US embassy in Berlin denied the allegation and accused the Senat of spreading fake news. Opposition leader Burkard Dregger (CDU) believes the embassy and criticised Geisel for his bold statements, going as far as demanding an apology be extended. Stay tuned for the next chapter of this mask mystery!

But there is good news too: Two million masks were delivered to Berlin on the weekend, Senator Kalayci reported today. A quarter of them will go to homes for the elderly. Hospitals, the police and other services were also on the list of recipients. But even more masks are needed. A spokesperson from Kalayci’s office announced the senator has also asked the Bundeswehr air force to go fetch further deliveries from China.

Financial aid and solidarity payments

The mayor admitted a “gap” in state help and said he’s still hoping for federal money to finally help small to medium sized companies with zero-interest loans. He told the RBB Abendschau he would keep advocating for a solution making further state and federal budgets available. We heard in the past week that many businesses are waiting. Fingers crossed tomorrow’s Senat consultations will advance the plans.

Berlin culture Senator Klaus Lederer is fearing for the city’s cultural institutions and has asked the federal government for further subsidies. He said that zero-interest loans (which, by the way, still aren’t available) won’t be a good solution for many clubs, cinemas, stages and independent museums because their profit margins are tiny. He told the DPA that “the liquidity problem must not become a debt problem.”

Keeping up the morale: Mayor Müller has announced nursing staff and other employees at the state-owned Vivantes and Charité clinics are to receive a ‘’Corona preminum’’ of €150 each month for three months as a sign of recognition for their commitment. Together the two care for more than half of the hospital patients in the capital with over 35,000 employees combined.

Berlin snapshots

Neukölln prohibits the Dar as-Salam Mosques’ public call to prayer, stating that the last one on Friday was the trigger for numerous violations of the current anti-Corona measures. About 300 people gathered in front of the mosque and distance was only partially kept, the police tweeted. The organisers said it was supposed to be an inter-religious action between the Muslim organisation Moscheeverein Neuköllner Begegnungsstätte and the Christian Genezareth congregation, planned as a virtual gathering. The church bells were supposed to ring at the same time as the adhan call. (Church bells have not been banned.)  

Hotels are getting creative: Chains such as Achat and Welcome are advertising their rooms as the ideal home office alternative – a day of productive isolation plus room service for €39 or less! Hotel platform HRS is reportedly starting a service called MeWork, allowing companies to rent hotel rooms as work space for their staff. We reckon those beds and TV screens could prove distracting!

Despite widespread bans on large gatherings of people, the radical left scene has not ruled out a protest on May 1. The organising groups state that “It is not the police, not the Berlin Senate and not the Federal Government that decides whether May 1 will take place in Berlin, but we ourselves.” At the same the groups emphasise that they will only take to the streets if they have protective equipment, including masks. What are the odds?  

Uni news, Corona edition

The Free University’s veterinary faculty is researching the effect of Corona on pets. After a cat in Belgium was found to be infected on the weekend, the FU professor Achim Gruber said it still wasn’t clear whether cats could develop symptoms or infect humans with the virus. While we can’t trust the felines for sure, Gruber says that dogs are safe. So don’t worry about all those canines getting extra walkies these days!

One student’s joy is another student’s sorrow: Numerous rooms at the Schlachtensee student village are suddenly free as international students forfeit their places due to Corona. Those 3422 students on the waiting list will be delighted – it’s a convenient location, especially for Free Uni students.