#41: Those explosions, Oranienstrasse, BVG hit by omicron
And has your utility provider disappeared amid this inflation?
Hi 20 Percent,
Mitte is Germany’s corona capital with an incidence of 2,200, and the reasons why are from from what I suspected (I was thinking commuter hubs in Wedding (part of the borough of Mitte) like Gesundbrunnen, Osloerstrasse and even Leopoldplatz). But Mitte health politician Christoph Keller (Die Linke) explained during the borough’s regular meeting Thursday that it’s actually bureaucratic.
First, Mitte has lots of hospitals. All corona patients there are added to Mitte’s figures. Second, Mitte has lots of labs and if a PCR test comes with just a name and not an official residential address, then a positive test gets added to Mitte’s scorecard. And finally, if someone tests positive who’s on an office or event list from Mitte - where there are lots offices and events - chalk more up for Mitte. So it’s not the residents’ fault. Stop judging.
The rest of Berlin, he seemed to infer, should be thanking Mitte for shouldering some of their burden, kind of like how 20 Percent Berlin frees you from the burden of dative, accusative and the bizarre beast that is genitive.
All of that is to say, stay healthy, thanks for reading us and thanks for supporting us (triple thanks to those who’ve contributed to our Patreon). Y’all are our Vitamin D.
Have a nice weekend. Read the news below.
Subscribe to 20 Percent Berlin for free! You won’t regret it.
The Berlin corona stats for Friday, January 21
Fully vaccinated: 74% (73.6% Tuesday)
Received booster: 50.1% (48.2% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: +10,679 (7,559 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 4,077 (+10 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 1,258.3 (962.7 Tuesday)
🔴 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 14.7 (12.9 Tuesday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 16.8% (18.4% Tuesday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page, Impfdashboard
Explosions over Berlin
Unfortunately, it’s not the invasion of a more intelligent life form we’ve all been hoping for. The loud, regular noises that boomed across Berlin shortly after midnight were just a power plant literally letting off steam, according to Tagesspiegel. The Reuter West plant in Siemensstadt near Spandau was venting spikes in generation, the Polizei said, resulting in about 20 dull explosion-like noises and a number of calls to emergency services. If you missed it, check out the YouTube and be prepared to be creeped out.
Subways and trams get omicron too
Berlin public transport provider BVG Monday will lengthen the intervals on various tram and subway lines as the omicron wave commutes through its employee ranks - though you may not yet notice. Trams M5 and M6 will run only every 10 minutes during the day while the U2, U5, U6 and U9 will run every 5 minutes. The train lines join BVG buses, which this week also began less frequent intervals because of a lack of personnel. Still, BVG says you’ll have to wait at most an extra minute. No big deal. Yet.
Oranienstrasse to be free of cars
Oranienstrasse between Moritzplatz and Skalitzer Strasse is to become car-free in 2024, though delivery traffic and BVG buses will still traverse the Kreuzbergian thoroughfare, Die Grüne politician Annika Gerold told taz. Local residents as well as businesses were polled on their feelings for a new Oranienstrasse before the plans were finalized. Whether private motorized traffic will be held at bay with automatic bollards or other means is up to a current study, she said. A little less anarchy in Kreuzberg every day.
If your gas or electricity provider goes belly up
Skyrocketing electricity and gas prices have led to the insolvency of a handful of discount utility providers such as Stromio, Gas.de and Grünwelt, with more likely to come. What does that mean for consumers? First, don’t panic. Default utility providers like Vattenfall for electricity and gas company Gasag immediately take over to ensure no interruption in service. However, be vigilant. According to Berliner Zeitung, 21,000 gas customers in Berlin got a sobering bill in December: Instead of the usual €80 from Gas.de, one customer reportedly paid €600. Gasag justified the higher rate by saying they had to buy gas for the compulsory customers on the current market, where prices have leapt tenfold. Most customers quickly find a replacement discounter - and Germany’s consumer watchdog (Verbraucherzentrale) told the paper they would be suing Gasag because of what it sees as illegally unfair treatment.
Beyond Bowie’s Heroes, arguably the biggest album recorded in Berlin was U2’s Achtung Baby. Named after a line in Mel Brooks’ The Producers, the 1991 record marked a return to form for U2, despite the dodgy opening track Zoo Station (and yes, Bono, we get the in-joke). Incredibly, nearly half of the album’s song were released as official singles, including the anthemic One. Needless to say, One was on the setlist when U2 put on a free concert in front of the Brandenburg Gate to mark the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s collapse. It was meant to be. - Andrew Blackman
Tonight and Saturday: Army of Lovefuckers at English Theatre Berlin
This very German, very Berlin bit of feminist performance art — a melange of theatre, dance and puppets somehow involving female warriors, cyborgs, smashing neoliberalism etc etc — has been translated into English and is being staged at the good old ET Berlin in Kreuzberg. The theatre swears the piece is bursting with irony and humour! Wir sind gespannt. Tickets still available here.