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  • Daily Berlin Corona update: Thursday, April 23

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Daily Berlin Corona update: Thursday, April 23

News from the Spielplatz, Corona fraudster arrested, Berlin's new online mask market, the drive-through procedure and a funeral to keep police busy.

Image for Daily Berlin Corona update: Thursday, April 23

As of Thursday night, the officially confirmed number of Corona infections in Berlin lies at 5476.

  • There are 5476 confirmed cases in Berlin.
  • As of Tuesday (new numbers pending), 4044 people have been declared recovered from Covid-19.
  • Seven more deaths were reported, the total number of casualties lies at 112.

Shutdown exit: playgrounds, museums and city parliament

The district mayors have spoken: Playgrounds all over town will open on April 30, a week from now. Speaking to Berliner Zeitung, Lichtenberg mayor Michael Grunst (Die Linke) called it a “courageous step” which had been thoroughly discussed. He added it was a “good sign” for the long weekend of May 1 and that the responsibility to keep children safe was now with the parents. But it seems unlikely all playgrounds will open at  the same time, as Pankow has already announced they will only do it step by-step. 

Only a few Berlin museums will open on May 4, head of the Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz Hermann Parzinger has said, without specifying which ones would be chosen. Visitors and employees will have to wear masks. Parzinger pointed out that people tend to stay in rooms for prolonged periods and that museums would have to assess the flow of visitors.

City parliament is returning to its regular schedule of committee sessions after reducing them drastically due to the virus. Come May 4, a maximum of three sessions per day will take place at the Abgeordnetenhaus. MPs have the option to stream them or phone in, although only the physically present will get to vote (for every absent MP from the governing coalition, an opposition MP will stay away also to keep proportions). Parliament is no longer looking into moving to Westend’s Messe. 

From Monday on, wearing masks is compulsory on public transport but the Senat have not planned for any checks or fines for violations. The Berlin CDU is now demanding enforcement of the mask rule. BVG and S-Bahn have already said they won’t be doing the checking. A Senat spokesperson has said the city government was trusting Berliners but would be keeping an eye on the mask situation to adapt measures if need be.

Soforthilfe fraud, cinema and restaurant woes 

German association AG Kino is pushing for a reopening of cinemas – in July at the very latest. They argue it wouldn’t take much to put effective hygiene concepts into action and propose smaller audiences per screening, selling tickets online and allowing people to leave through emergency exit as well as regular exits to keep everyone at a safe distance. They also demand financial aid for cinemas during the reopening phase.

Hotel and gastronomy association Dehoga have applauded the federal government’s decision to cut the VAT to 7 percent for restaurants. They also pointed out that clubs and bars would not benefit and that the lowered tax would not make up for all the revenues lost in the crisis. As of today, there are no plans in place to lift Corona ban for the industry. Restaurants have to rely on delivery and takeaway menus (this way for our favourites).

A 31-year-old man has been arrested for Soforthilfe fraud. He and his wife had applied with several companies, some of which didn’t exist, to get €80,000 in financial aid from the city. The man had received €35,000. The Berlin Investment Bank IBB expects losses of around €700,000 due to fraud, as authorities already investigate 46 cases. (Unsure if you were entitled to the money you received? Read our taxpert interview for clarification!)  

Image for Daily Berlin Corona update: Thursday, April 23

Corona-busting: drive-through, mask market and cleaning bus drivers

The city has launched an online platform to connect people selling masks with those looking to buy them. The whole thing looks like a cross between etsy and a 1990s web forum. You can’t actually sell or buy anything, but you can see photos, find shop addresses or email the mask maker of your choice. So far there are 58 offers. Happy browsing, everyone!

The drive-through Corona testing centre at Wedding’s Zentraler Festplatz on Kurt-Schumacher-Damm has started operations. Three tents with signs advertising the “Corona-Busters” have been set up and doctors and health administration staff expect between 40 and 60 testees per day. Again, these tests are not for everybody, but for people with symptoms who have had at least brief contact with a confirmed case. And you don’t, actually, just drive through: You need to register on the phone (030 – 9018 45271) and book a time slot, then drive there. And don’t forget your ID!

Also promising to do their bit of Corona busting are the BVG. From May 4, all buses and trains will be running on their regular schedule again. In addition, the transport provider has promised to keep up the extra cleaning of trams, busses, U-Bahns and stations “with soap and water”, no less. A spokesperson said they were using around 30 percent more cleaning products than usual. A bus driver, cleaning cloth in hand, told the DPA they were tackling handles, rails, seats and stop buttons.

Berlin snapshots: A funeral, living room Musique and permanent ‘pop-ups’

The Berlin police are getting ready for the funeral of a Rammo family member. More than 100 relatives of the around 500-strong family (notorious for their police records) waited outside the Urban Hospital last night. Officials even had to chase a Porsche speeding to get there (they didn’t catch it). This morning, the woman died. According to Corona restrictions, only 20 people can currently attend funerals, so that’s bound to be an interesting event.

Also among the events that cannot go ahead as they normally would is this year’s Fête de la Musique. which is moving online and promising a host of balcony and living room concerts to be streamed online on June 21. A list is supposed to appear on their website shortly. A complete cancellation has been announced for the Venus erotica fair. As the Tagesspiegel put it, Corona is just not geil.

Aaand the opposition’s nightmare has come true: Traffic Senator Regine Günther (Greens) wants to keep all the new ‘pop up’ bike lanes in place beyond the Covid emergency. Following CDU and FDP, the German Automobile Club ADAC has criticised the new bike lanes taking up space normally reserved for cars: “The Senat is using an emergency situation to further special interests,” Berlin ADAC head Volker Krane said. Günther defended the new bike lanes, saying Corona had only sped up plans the government had been working on already.