#45: Yes, more corona changes, trains, CDU, Berlinale
And the appointment app was fun while it lasted.
It’s been that kind of week: I finally caught the disease of the decade. For me, it wasn’t much worse than an average cold, but both of my under-threes were feverous for more than a day. And now the Tagessmutter has it too, so that’s at least another week with both at home - which happens to be my office. So yeah, we’re frazzled and überfordert.
At least this: the first proper Berlinale in forever kicks off next Thursday, with a few caveats. Capacity has been cut by 50 percent and tickets can only be bought online three days in advance starting 10am on Monday. Set your alarm and warm up your mouse finger. It’ll be a virtual stampede!
More news below.
Have a restful, virus-free weekend!
The Berlin corona stats for Friday, February 4
Fully vaccinated: 75.4% (75.2% Tuesday)
Received booster: 54.8% (54.2% Tuesday)
New cases in one day: +13,317 (12,220 Tuesday)
Total deaths: 4,133 (+9 over Tuesday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 1,803.4 (1,761.2 Tuesday)
🔴 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 23.5 (20.2 Tuesday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 17.6% (17.1% Tuesday)
Topping the corona table
Neukölln, Mitte and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg have been corona champions for most of the pandemic. But no more! The borough of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf now tops the corona league nationwide. Its seven-day incidence rate of 3,552.2 is nearly three times the German average. Go figure.
Rule updates for salons and kitas
From Saturday, salons can now decide whether customers have to wear a mask or show a test. But proof of vaccination or recovery is still required. And in Kindertagesstätten - Kitas - kids and staff who have had contact with an infected person no longer have to stay home, education officials have ruled. They just have to have no symptoms and have a negative test each day for the subsequent five days. The “test-to-stay” rule puts the testing burden on Kita staff. Ever been to a kita at eight in the morning? Alexanderplatz at rush hour is a better testing environment. “This is a farce,” Christiane Weißhoff, from the teacher’s union, told Berliner Zeitung. It just means accepting high infection figures at daycares.
Sitting down for food waste
Climate activists resumed blockades on the A100 autobahn Friday to protest food waste and push for more climate friendly agricultural laws. Some protestors glued or chained themselves to the motorway, leading to furious commuters and lengthy traffic jams. The “Essen Retten” group (“Rescue Food”) had paused the near-daily action following the unrelated murders of two police officers earlier this week in central Germany. Yes on the message. Unsure on the method.
Novavax on its way
Berlin is scheduled to receive its first shipment of the Nuvaxovid vaccine made by US biotech Novavax. We can’t pronounce it either but the vaccine relies on proteins rather than mRNA so officials hope people who are reluctant to get an mRNA jab or are unable to for health reasons will go for this one. The city wants to first offer it to unvaxxed healthcare and nursing home staff.
Never mind on the appointment hack
A couple of days ago, we touted a service coded by a Canadian Berliner (according to Tagesspiegel) that could find you a rapid appointment at the Bürgeramt. Within hours, the authorities were wagging their fingers, saying the service violated the terms and conditions of berlin.de. It was discontinued. We’ve been here before. In 2015, some start-up dudes got busted for selling the exact same service. If you believe our mayor (Franziska Giffey (SPD)), such tools will soon be unnecessary because her Bürgeramt revamp will be giving us appointments within two weeks. Are we skeptical? Yes.
Next-gen ICE trains
New German transport minister Volker Wissing (FDP) says he wants to double train passengers numbers over the next eight years. To help achieve that, Deutsche Bahn has ordered a total of 73 new 3neo ICE trains, which are being built partially at a Siemens factory in Rummelsburg, in the east of the city. The fancy new trains are scheduled to roll into action by the end of the year. Expect extra spaces for bikes, more kid-friendly compartments and better phone reception thanks to new, super-special window glass!
In other rail news: last week a new nighttrain route from Hamburg to the Austrian Alps via Berlin launched with refurbished 1980s sleeper cars. The UEX ski trains depart Hauptbahnhof at 11:08pm and arrive in Innsbruck at 9:02am the following morning. Only two trains have seats available this year.
DW kicked out of Russia
In light of the Ukraine situation, not great timing. In retaliation for German broadcast regulators banning Russia Today’s German-language channel on Wednesday, the Russian foreign ministry says it will “terminate the satellite and other broadcasting of Deutsche Welle” on Russian territory. DW’s Moscow bureau has to close and its correspondents are being stripped of their press credentials. Both channels are state-funded and both sides accuse the other of spreading propaganda. DW TV is produced in Wedding and pretty much every expat journalist I know has done some time there, myself included.
CDU dropping C?
Not a Berlin story per se, but I couldn’t resist. The Christian Democratic Union, the party that has run the Federal Republic of Germany for most of the post-war era is having a serious identity crisis in the wake of its dismal election results in September, when it had to hand over the keys to the Kanzleramt after 16 years in power. The party hired a panel of experts to analyse what went wrong. Instead of pointing to the glaring inadequacy of their candidate Armin Laschet, panel historian Andreas Rödder said maybe it was time to remove “Christian” from the party’s name, arguing that in a society in which 70 percent of people no longer attended church, the C-word could be a barrier to entry. The Swiss CVP changed its name to Die Mitte for the same reasons, but I wouldn’t bet on the CDU messing with its name any time soon. As my co-writer Andrew likes to say: Germans hate change.
Corbijn at Camera Work
Almost everyone's familiar with Anton Corbijn's photos, even if they don't realise it. From his blacker-than-black videos for Depeche Mode in the ‘90s to his more recent photo of Mick Jagger in drag, the Dutchman has created a formidable body of work that also includes shots of film stars and fashion models. Heck, he's even photographed Germany's own Herbert Grönemeyer. Luckily for us, Camera Work gallery will Saturday open an exhibition of over 30 large-sized and newly released works by Corbijn that will run until March 12. The info. - Andrew Blackman