#44: Newish corona regs, car fires, Grosz museum
And wow we could all be rich now.
Hello you 20 Percenter you!
Maybe it’s my age but the longer this pandemic goes, the more it seems like a missed opportunity to pocket not just heaps but heaps and heaps of government money.
In the February before the first lockdown, I tried desperately to source masks for our family but gave up. I should have put more effort into it and found a source for then-health minister Jens Spahn (CDU), as seemingly every conservative politician was. I also briefly toyed with opening an upscale testing center (the math at the time was off-the-charts, like buy-a-yacht off-the-charts). But, I thought, how long can this last? Vaccines will end all of this, right? And then I’d be stuck with the yacht payments.
And then there’s the Luca app. While the federal government was busy developing what seems to me a functioning and more-or-less usable corona app, a group around German Gen X rapper Smudo (Fantastischen Vier, if you want to sample his work) was developing the Luca app. It promised to help governments track infections and allow event planners to keep venues open but actually just helped governments transfer gobs of money to the developers’ pockets. Berlin this week became the latest state government to say they won’t renew their contract with the app because it never did much for them - sticking those dudes with their yacht payments.
Speaking of moneymakers: We’re mulling a few treats for our Patreon subscribers, because we love y’all so much. I mean, we love every reader equally, but every parent has a favorite child. Nothing spectacular, just a discount here and food event there. If you’re a business owner and might also be interested, get in touch!
Have a great week!
The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, February 1
Fully vaccinated: 75.2% (74.6% Friday)
Received booster: 54.2% (53.3% Friday)
New cases in one day: +12,220 (11,736 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,124 (+26 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 1,761.2 (1,829.4 Tuesday)
🔴 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 20.2 (19.1 Tuesday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 17.1% (16.3% Tuesday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page, Impfdashboard
Updating corona regs
The Berlin government (the Senat) Tuesday is expected to re-jig local corona regulations to relieve overburdened labs and unify local guidelines with national guidelines. During a meeting happening while you’re likely reading this, the politicians are expected to shorten the duration of recovered status to three months from a current six, in-line with federal guidelines. They will also allow people to count as infected after a simple antibody test from a testing center - people can volunteer for PCR tests, which often require waiting in line and waiting a day or two for results, but it’s no longer a requirement. The city is also giving up on contact tracing and will remove any requirements for bars, restaurants and stores to keep track of visitors, according to Tagesspiegel
Mayor to Beamten: Work when you’re positive
Mayor Franziska Giffey (SPD) Monday told RBB radio the swift spread of the omicron variant may force public employees who show no symptoms to work despite being infected with the virus. “We’re not there yet but in this situation you can’t rule anything out,” she said. Opposition politicians brought the expected criticism but Berlin’s Vivantes hospitals as well as utility Stromnetz told Tagesspiegel they actually have similar plans, should it come to that.
Maybe an idea for a new reality show: A commercial insurer said food delivery riders in Berlin - think Lieferando, the problematic Gorillas and Uber Eats - suffered 454 accidents during deliveries last year, though the insurer doesn’t cover all services, according to Tagesspiegel. The figure also doesn’t include the 252 accidents at the workplace or 82 accidents suffered by employees on their way to work. Employers, Berlin officials said, help lower the figure by offering traffic law training as well as helmets and special clothing. The figures were the result of a parliamentary enquiry by two Die Grüne politicians.
Car fires flare in 2021
Arsonists last year sparked more cases of automotive arson in the city-state than ever before, according to the Berliner Zeitung. The police recorded 412 acts of incendiary aggression against cars, leaving 707 vehicles either destroyed or damaged by flames - the previous record was set in 2011 with 403 cases (the record for most cars affected remains in 2011: 759). Berlin made international headlines about a decade ago for what is seemingly a local pastime after someone created a burning cars map (the map no longer exists). Although most assume the arson is a political statement, it’s usually playground-level arson, insurance fraud or vandalism, the cops said. Only 68 of the cases last year were considered politically motivated. So far this year, cops have counted 51 cases of car arson, damaging 73 vehicles.
Grosz museum in bougie Schöneberg house
Another sign that Berlin’s de facto red light district will soon no longer be Berlin’s red light district: A museum to dada artist and city native George Grosz will open in May in an old gas station on Bülowstraße. The derelict Schöneberg Shell station was bought by gallerist Juerg Judin several years ago and converted to his private residence - he constructed space for his collection next door. You’ve probably seen the site - giant white walls and tall trees were installed to separate the gallerist and his architectural heirloom from the prostitution and drug use of the Kurfürstenstrasse neighborhood. The station had been a highlight in a bleak space before it was hidden from all of us. The exhibition will run for five years, the Morgenpost reports.
Factoid: Fewer bike rides in 2021
After reaching records in 2020, Berlin’s bike counting stations recorded about 10 percent fewer riders last year. The 18 permanent stations counted 18.5 million bike trips last year, down from 20.7 million in the first year of the pandemic. Two new stations were added in 2022 (Straße der 17. Juni and Karl-Marx-Allee), which bump the figure to 19.3 million last year. None of the stations recorded the same level last year as in 2021.