#35: New laws, legal weed, new apartments, Bowie
And some facts about the fireworks the majority no longer wants.
Hello 20 Percent,
Few of us will miss 2021. It felt like a year that promised so much but surprised even the cynics with its mediocrity. Being a closet-optimist, I’m hoping for a better 2022.
Here’s a prediction: BER will finally start acting like a real airport next year. Like, you can be a true Berliner and completely misplan your trip to the airport and still catch that flight to Bucharest even though you only showed up less than an hour early. Sure, there’ll be lectures from counter personnel, security creatures and the Oma you nearly flatten in your sprint to the gate. But you’ll make it. And treat yourself to an over-priced Becks once in your assigned seat, wondering if you’ll ever be capable of being an adult. I’ve experienced several new airports in my lifetime and the secret I’m loathe to admit: None of them worked right in the beginning.
Next year will also be the year we go from fighting the pandemic to living with it. I have no medical background. I barely passed biology but this thing doesn’t look like it’s going away. And I like to criticize the government’s ridiculously complex web of rules but I also notice a strategy - trying to thread the needle of reducing transmission while allowing a little normalcy. Expect more of that, but hopefully more effectively with less complexity. Omicron may make living with it even more imperative.
And what’s in store for 20 Percent Berlin? We hope to expand our content with occasional longish reads and, in the distant future, switch to a mixed subscriber/free content model. But for the short term we’ve created a Patreon account so you can add euros of encouragement to your words of support.
Thanks for surviving 2021 with us. Let’s try to thrive a little in 2022, oder?
The Berlin corona stats for Friday, the last day of the year
Fully vaccinated: 71.6% (71.3% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: +2,777 (2,457 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 4,016 (+20 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 280.9 (263.1 Tuesday)
🟢 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 3.1 (3.0 Tuesday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 19.1% (19.4% Tuesday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page
What’s changing in 2022
We may think of döner kebabs when we think of Germany but Germans think of laws. Lots of them. Here’s the new ones the new year is bringing:
No more single-use plastic shopping bags (veggie bags excepted).
Stamp for a letter increasing to €0.85 from €0.80 (tell your grandparents)
No more killing male chicks in chicken/egg farms.
Nearly all beverage containers (including juice and milk) are now a part of PFAND.
Retailers have to accept small electronics for recycling, larger electronics (TVs, for example) only when a new one is purchased.
Child benefit climbing to €209 per kid from €205.
Minimum wage up to €9.82/hour Saturday, €10.45/hour July 1
Bowie in the letterbox
The cost of a stamp is going up in 2022 but at least we’re getting a great stamp few of us will ever actually use (every time I send something these days I just use Deutsche Post’s app) - a stamp celebrating David Bowie’s 75th birthday. The former Berlin resident (Schöneberg, to be exact) may not be around to enjoy it but they’ve got him in all his 80s glory. I’d show you the picture but you already know what I’m talking about. To be fair, the Royal Mail did an entire Bowie series years ago.
Up in smoke
Germany’s new coalition made big noises about legalizing marijuana and, this week, made big noises about how that’s been “put on ice” because the government has bigger issues. While there are big - major even - issues, it’s a government with a lot of ministries that allow it to both chew gum and legalize weed at the same time. Media speculate it has more to do with pressure from the conservative CDU and status-quo-loving police unions.
Rents aren’t going down for awhile (if at all)
In her new year’s speech that has already been released but not spoken, our new mayor, Franziska Giffey (SPD), will repeat promises to build 20,000 new apartments each year in the Hauptstadt, including 5,000 for low income households. BUT, she’s governing with the same politicians who only managed just over 16,000 in 2020. Applications for new construction are also down and, with two years between application and completion, Giffey’s promise was broken as soon as she made it.
In pre-corona times, Berliners dumped 400 cubic meters of firework garbage on the streets of Berlin during Silvester (New Year’s) and created 4,000 tons of particulates, or 15 percent of the city’s annual amount, usually created by traffic and industry.
See you next year (my favorite pre-Christmas holidays elementary school joke)!