#24: New rules, cannabis, Mercedes, corona art
Lockdowns in Saxony and Bavaria. Can we be far behind?
Dear 20 Percent,
Once again, Germany seems at a loss. Across the country, but especially Thuringia and Saxony (the two states with the lowest immunisation rates), intensive care units are filling up with Covid patients. In some areas, ambulances have to drive patients hours to find a free bed. Hospitals say around 90 percent of Covid patients in ICUs have not been vaccinated. Who would have guessed?
Lame-duck chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) called the situation “very dramatic”. Meanwhile Lothar Wieler, head of the Robert Koch Institute, didn’t mince words: “We are running into a serious predicament right now. We’re really going to have a very bad Christmas if we don't take countermeasures now.” He also said, disturbingly, “Das Kind ist in den Brunnen gefallen" - “The kid’s fallen in the well.” Which means: “We were asleep on the job. Now we’re screwed.”
It’s looking pretty bleak. Well-ordered southern European countries like Spain, which has a vaccination rate of over 80 percent, are suffering far less in the fourth wave. In chaotic Germany, 20 percent of the population seems trapped in the irrational belief systems of Querdenker internet bubbles.
Oh, and hospitals are still faxing in their Covid stats to the government - meaning they sometimes lose them. No, really.
However, on Thursday, politicians did agree on a package of new measures to break the fourth wave crashing over Deutschland. More on that below. But first the stats.
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The Berlin corona stats for Friday, November 19
Fully vaccinated: 68.4% (67.9% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: +2 321 (2,593 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 3,777 (+15 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 346 (315.8 Tuesday)
🟢 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 3.8 (3.7 Tuesday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 16.8% (15.4% Tuesday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page
2G, 2G+, 3G
The “traffic-light” constellation of the SPD, Greens and FDP, which is expected to form a coalition government under Olaf Scholz (SPD) before Christmas, managed to sell a package of new pandemic measures to the leaders of the German states in a meeting Thursday. Here’s an overview of the new rules (which still have to be implemented in each of the 16 German states:
The 2G rule will apply in most indoor public spaces in states with a Covid hospitalisation rate of at least 3 per 100,000. Once that threshold has been exceeded, proof of vaccination or recovery from an infection (2G) must then be shown in restaurants, gyms, bars, cinemas, hair salons, massage parlours, brothels etc. In Berlin we’ve de facto been at this point since last week. The worst hospitalisation rate is in Thuringia (18.5).
Non-vaccinated individuals can then only shop, and visit doctors and pharmacies. That’s about it.
Once the hospitalisation rate hits 6, 2G+ kicks in, meaning vaccinated people must also show a valid negative corona test.
Also new is a nationwide 3G requirement (vaxxed, recovered or tested) for all public transport and trains. The rule will be enforced via spot checks. Rapid corona tests are considered valid for 24 hours.
Workplaces are also going 3G. Employers are permitted to ask staff if they’ve been jabbed. Non-vaxxed or recovered people must be tested twice a week. And, yes, the government wants those of us who can to return to “home office.”
The few healthcare and nursing home workers who have not yet gotten jabbed will now be required to do so.
But is another lockdown on its way? Outgoing Berlin mayor Michael Müller (SPD) told RBB Thursday that he couldn’t rule out another lockdown and that Berliners could “collectively prevent a lockdown.” The new rules don’t mention lockdowns specifically but states with hospitalisation incidences of at least 9 per 100,000 can consider more drastic measures. The state of Saxony is already talking through the details of a two-to-three-week “wavebreaker” lockdown and Bavarian premiere Markus Söder just said he’d be locking down certain regions in his southern German state.
Step aside, Amsterdam
On a more positive note, it appears Germany is about to get a more progressive drug policy - potentially saving billions in policing costs and robbing organised crime of a lucrative business model. What happened? The traffic light coalition negotiations have produced a joint paper on controlled substances which recommends the legalisation of cannabis in Germany. The upcoming Scholz government is expected to introduce the “controlled sale to adults for leisure purposes in licensed shops.” Whether this means your Späti or pharmacy is unclear. Probably the latter. The paper also recommends “drug checking” - whereby people who have bought illegal drugs can get their stuff checked for especially harmful chemicals. The coalition also wants stricter rules on advertising and marketing for tobacco and alcohol, which remain responsible for most substance-related health problems and deaths.
Video of policeman in distress may lead to charges
Police are contemplating charges of refusing to administer aid after a man filmed a police officer having a seizure early Wednesday. The officer had wrecked his cruiser and can be seen flailing inside the car. Instead of helping, the man filmed and made fun of the officer - “Get out of here. The cops are coming,” a voice says during the video, according to Tagesspiegel. The video was reportedly uploaded by a known hooligan to social media. The 59-year-old officer later died in hospital.
Huge photovoltaic plant opens in Brandenburg
After a delay due to corona, utility ENBW officially opened its solar park in Werneuchen on Friday. It’s Germany’s largest, with 465,000 solar modules. The €100 million project is supposed to produce enough electricity for about 50,000 households, or about 180 million kilowatt hours per year.
Missing Irish tourist
Berlin police say a 45-year-old Irishman has gone missing after arriving at BER on Monday. Alan Curry is about 170 cm tall, stocky, bearded and bald - and has a variety of tattoos on his arms and legs. He was last seen wearing gray pants, a white shirt, and a navy blue coat. If you’ve seen him or know of his whereabouts, call the Polizei’s missing persons hotline on 030 4664912444.
Last chance: Corona Culture
The 4,000m² Corona Culture: What the Fuck is Happening exhibition at Alte Münze in Mitte ends this Sunday - check it out. Works by over 100 artists, creators and activists from around the world explore the effect of the pandemic on our lives. Expect a labyrinth of video, photography, sound art, performance, sculpture and site-specific installations. This weekend, there’s a final closing festival. In case you were wondering, the show is 3G.
Does Berlin seem crowded? We’re currently about 1 million short of the record 4,478,102 that called Berlin home in 1942.