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#21: 2G everywhere, dead Russian agent, Tesla
Corona supply chain problems hurting Berliner retail and a new sponsor for us.
Hi 20 Percent,
It’s 9 November, Germany’s Schicksalstag, or “fateful day”, the day of the year where so many momentous or horrific things occurred in this country’s calamitous history: the downfall of Kaiser Wilhelm and proclamation of a short-lived socialist republic in 1918, the failed Nazi beerhall putsch in 1923, Kristallnacht in 1938, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Nothing like that this year - just another day in our drab, dystopic present - with yet another corona rule-change coming our way.
As the infection numbers rise and rise, I don’t envy the politicians responsible for steering us through all this. They’re expected to save lives, keep the economy chugging and at the same time prevent rebellion by avoiding another lockdown. It’s a near impossible task. Germany’s leadership is far from perfect, but a look at past November 9s confirms that, despite all of today’s muddling through, it could all be a lot worse. So chin up, let’s get through this. Maybe get vaxxed if you haven’t done so yet. Someday it will be over.
The news is below!
The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, November 9
Fully vaccinated: 67.5% (67.2% Friday)
New cases in one day: 2,209 (1,506 Friday)
Total deaths: 3,740 (+31 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 220.8 (180 Friday)
🟢 7-day hospitalisation incidence (also per 100,000): 3.5 (3.4 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 12.4% (10.9% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page
5G on your phone, 2G everywhere else
Berlin is beefing up its corona measures. In an interview with RBB Inforadio, outgoing mayor Michael Müller (SPD) said the city government, or Senat, was introducing new rules under which only vaccinated or recovered (geimpft or genesen, i.e. 2G) people will be allowed into restaurants and bars, culture and entertainment venues, as well as indoor sport and fitness facilities. A negative corona test will no longer suffice - the third G in 3G. The new regulation could be here as early as next week. Most non-vaccinated people will be effectively barred from large areas of public life. Under current rules, restaurants, for example, are free to decide for themselves between 2G and 3G. Clubs are already 2G-only.
Russian man found dead outside embassy
What is it with the Russians and mysterious deaths? Der Spiegel reported Friday that on the morning of October 19, the body of a man had been discovered on Behrenstraße by police officers guarding the Russian Embassy in Mitte. The man is thought to have tumbled from an upper storey of the huge complex. It turns out he was 35 years old and registered as a diplomat, but was known to German intelligence sources as a member of the Russian intelligence service FSB.
Investigative site Bellingcat reported that the deceased was in fact the son of the deputy director of the FSB’s Second Service. The Second Service is thought to be behind the murder of former Chechen rebel commander Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, who was shot in the head in the Kleiner Tiergarten park in Moabit in August 2019.
Meanwhile, the embassy called the October death a “tragic accident”. The man’s body has been flown to Moscow, sources told Spiegel. In 2003 something similar took place: a doorman fell from the window of his apartment in the complex.
Global supply chain problems could mean Christmas is a tiny bit less consumerist this year. The Berlin-Brandenburg Trade Association (HBB) has warned of possible bottlenecks in the retail sector, thanks to corona-related disruption. Clothing, electronics and household appliances are affected. “Warm sweaters, in the appropriate colors of this season - that can already be difficult,” said HBB spokesperson Christine Minkley. Shortages of raw materials, labour and freight containers around the world were to blame, she said.
One more Tesla problem
Maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to build the Tesla factory in a groundwater protection area. Environmentalist group Verein für Natur und Landschaft says heavy rain on November 4 probably washed pollutants emitted during test operations from the factory roof into the groundwater. The Brandenburg Environment Agency - the same office that still hasn’t issued a proper building permit for the project - says it is investigating. Meanwhile, the so-called online public hearing process (which my colleague Andrew described as a digital stack of paper that can be ignored) is underway. You and I know exactly what will happen with all of the 800-odd public objections: they’ll disappear as quickly as the rain soaks into the sandy Brandenburg soil.
Our Charité hospital is the first hospital to have ever cured someone of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. American Timothy Brown caught the disease in 1995 in the Hauptstadt and was then diagnosed with Leukemia in 2006. After a bone marrow transplant, Berlin doctors discovered he had been cured of AIDS because of a unique gene mutation in his donor marrow. Brown died in Palm Springs last year.
New Airbnb reg
For all you part-time landlords out there, a reminder: if you post your Berlin flat or room as a vacation property on Airbnb or elsewhere, your registration number must be displayed in the listing. The rule went into effect at the beginning of the month. Non-compliance could mean a fine of up to €250,000. If you still don’t have a number, apply for one! The form (BauWohn 600) is here. Now just hope they process your application by next summer. True story: a friend has been waiting two years for his.
Forty percent of Berliners sick of Berlin
According to an online survey by broadcaster RBB, four out of ten Berliners want to leave the city for good. Reasons cited were high rents, the “hectic city”, “insufficient safety” and bad air. Don’t let the S-Bahn doors close on your Po on the way out! More space and lower rents for the rest of us. And these surveys - are they really as “representative” as always claimed? Were you, the 20 Percent, asked whether you want to stay in Berlin?
Another fire in Kaufhof
About a week after a suspected arson attack in Kaufhof on Alexanderplatz, a fire broke out in the store on Monday, this one more mysterious. A pile of clothing was found ablaze in a hard-to-reach storage room in the basement. Nobody was injured by the fire, which was extinguished by the building’s sprinkler system. Police have yet to come up with an explanation. The fire on October 30 is believed to have been set by a 26-year-old man who was arrested at the scene.
Culture: Portuguese Cinema Days
Get thee to the cinema and forget you live in northern Europe for a couple of hours. Kreuzberg’s Moviemento is hosting a programme of Portuguese films through the end of the month - and they’re all with English subtitles! Here’s the programme.
That’s it for now. Before you leave, please consider visiting our sponsor. 👇👇👇
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