#30: Hemp tickets, kids' vaxxes, bridge closed, data art
And Berlin ICU staff say they've almost had it (but would accept a raise).
Hey 20 Percent,
With an Omicron Christmas and a not particularly festive New Year’s Eve looming, BVG’s hemp ticket campaign might be hitting the right notes. Yes, Berlin’s public transport operator is selling a limited number of 24-hour passes printed on edible paper infused with a drop of hemp oil. THC and CBD-free, naturally. It’s non-toxicating but will “bring you down” after a stressful day of X-mas shopping (we don’t know how since, like they said, it’s THC and CBD-free). But you won’t have to go to Görli, the viral campaign video explains, just your nearest BVG service counter by December 17. I wouldn’t be surprised if the tickets were sold out by the time you read this.
“We’re against any kind of drug use - whether illegal or legal,” BVG said, having apparently never ridden their own U8. “But we’re in favour of a more open approach to completely harmless substances.”
As the Germans say: I wish you a good start in the week!
More news below.
P.S. Did I mention that we’re on Twitter?
The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, December 14
Fully vaccinated: 71.3% (70.1.7% Friday)
New cases in one day: +2,579 (2,614 Friday)
Total deaths: 3,926 (+2 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 307.8 (342.2 Friday)
🟡 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 4.7 (4.7 Friday)
🔴 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 23.7% (24.7% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page
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Jabs for kids
Covid vaccinations for children aged 5-11 are to begin in Berlin Wednesday if city health senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD) gets her way. Yet, because Berlin, the project is already plagued by “organisational chaos”, as public broadcaster RBB puts it. Kids appointments at the Tegel, Messe and ICC vaccination centres are reported to be booked out for now and 12 primary schools (one school per district!) are also supposed to begin vaccinating on Wednesday too, but there’s been confusion about which schools exactly. Anyhow, to get your youngster a jab at one of the schools, you can try to book an appointment via the Berlin vaccination hotline 030 9028 – 2200 (not online!). Pediatricians and GPs are now also authorised to vaccinate kids.
Docs reaching their limits
A group of intensive care doctors in Berlin have published a statement, signed by more than 1,500 people, describing working conditions that have steadily grown worse since the pandemic began 20 months ago. “Physicians have been and continue to be confronted with the most severe physical and psychological working conditions.” They lament 13-hour days and 80-hour weeks that leave no time for family or relaxation. The pandemic has “pushed us beyond the limits of our endurance.” They conclude with demands for reduced hours and better pay for doctors and nurses, something politicians have had 20 months to mull.
Berlin and Brandenburg retailers say holiday season sales have taken a beating, in part thanks to the 2G rules. With 10 days left till Christmas Eve, the local retailers’ lobby has come up with an idea to make shopping easier: people who have shown their vaccination passport at one spot in a mall or shopping street (ergo: KuDamm) will be able to get a wristband valid for one day so they don’t have to pull out their phone every time they enter a new outlet.
Major bridge shut down
In non-corona news, we return to the crumbling reality of Berlin’s infrastructure. The Elsenbrücke, a major road bridge across the Spree that connects Treptow and Friedrichshain, has been shut due to fears of collapse, reports Berliner Zeitung. The bridge was closed to all vehicles and pedestrians early Monday after sensors designed to report shifts in the bridge’s structure sounded the alarm. Because the bridge had already displayed cracking back in 2018, only half of the bridge had been open to traffic while a provisionsal replacement was being built. It won’t be ready till March. Expect STAU (traffic jams) until then.
Job cuts in Brandenburg
While Tesla roars ahead with its factory at the gates of the city, promising thousands of new jobs, foreign firms are bleeding jobs elsewhere in the state that surrounds our capital. French rail manufacturer Alstom said it’s slashing up 1,300 positions in Germany, with Hennigsdorf hit hard. Danish wind turbine maker Vestas, meanwhile, says it’s shutting an entire plant in Lauchhammer to the south, with more than 400 jobs at stake. Both are industries needed for the transition to a fossil-free future so I won’t be surprised if politicians intervene to save these factories.
Machine Hallucinations: Nature Dreams
Something to do with NFTs, AI, crypto and turning Berlin weather data into weird visuals - I don’t really get the tech behind it, but this “data painting” by artist Refik Anadol in a concrete Kreuzberg church is nonetheless pretty cool looking. Get there before the show closes December 17. The info.
Room77 in Kreuzberg was rumoured to have been the first bar worldwide to take Bitcoin. It began accepting the currency for beer and burgers in spring 2011 and soon attracted crypto-heads from far and wide. It hosted meet-ups and for a while had its own Bitcoin ATM. Room77 closed for good in the autumn of 2020. Corona casualty? Who knows. With the exponential growth in Bitcoin’s value over the past 10 years, one can assume the owner is doing alright for himself. Bitcoin Magazine has the whole story.