#48: What and when corona regs are changing, a new train station, toilet bandits
And the subway is 120. Yes, that's an old stain you're sitting on.
Hello 20 Percent!
A couple weeks ago my wife and I were watching a German movie from the ‘70s (a Heinz Erhardt film - don’t ask) and we were shocked to see that even then, modern German was beset with anglicisms. Mr. Erhardt was making fun of the anglicisms as if he were on Tiktok.
I’ve made my peace with Germany’s penchant for incorporating English - I guess it sounds fancy to them - but I could do without adopting “Freedom Day”. As in, free from corona day. As in, the same thing the Brexit-addled UK government used. I really don’t want to think of Boris every time I write about 3G being replaced with medical masks or as I celebrate an end to testing requirements to have dinner at my favorite restaurant. And it seems too melodramatic and not entirely true - the pandemic isn’t over.
I don’t know why, but every time the German media use it, it makes me cringe harder than when I hear 12-year-old Germans dropping more f-bombs than an Australian sailor. Can’t this country’s scribes come up with something original? I don’t know, maybe Hoch die Hände die Restriktionen sind zu Ende?
Ok, so it’s a little clunky but it’s just a start. A working title. And it’s better than what to me is the new f-bomb. Other suggestions?
Have a good week. Fewer restrictions are coming.
The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, February 15
Fully vaccinated: 76% (75.8% Friday)
Received booster: 56.8% (56.3% Friday)
New cases in one day: +5,630 (10,164 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,168 (+4 over Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 1,135.8 (1,413.8 Friday)
🔴 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 26.4 (25.2 Friday)
🟡 Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 15.9% (15.9% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona information page, Impfdashboard
The beginning of the end (for now)
Berlin’s government - the Senat - today will meet to lift 2G restrictions on non-essential retail, museums and zoo visits, meaning anyone can shop or visit as long as they wear an FFP-2 mask. But the news is being overshadowed by the federal government all-but announcing an end to most restrictions March 20, the first day of spring (ah, symbolism!). Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) will meet Wednesday with the heads of Germany’s 16 states. The group will reportedly vote on a leaked three-phase plan to lift restrictions over the next month.
Almost immediately, those vaccinated and recovered can meet in groups of 20 maximum, up from 10 previously. The unvaccinated will still be limited to their household plus two people. Retail will only require the wearing of medical masks (less stringent than Tuesday’s Berlin ruling).
On March 4, restaurants, bars and hotels will be downgraded to 3G while clubs and major events will become either 2G or 2G+ (dig out those dancing shoes). Attendance limits are expected to continue, though be more generous, according to widespread reports.
On March 20, most limitations will end, including working-from-home requirements, meaning you’ll be back in the office (note to self: Practice small talk). Still, mask-wearing is likely to remain for some time.
Health officials are reportedly also bracing for an increase in hospital admissions as restrictions ease and the unvaccinated are exposed to the virus. The federal government still promises to introduce compulsory vaccinations for healthcare workers beginning March 15.
Billing roadblock activists
Berlin interior minister Iris Spranger (SPD) is looking at whether she can force certain environmental protestors to pay for the police who remove them from the streets. The activists, who call themselves Aufstand der letzten Generation (Resistance from the final generation), regularly protest by blocking major Berlin thoroughfares - they struck again Monday in Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf on access roads to the A100, leading to 21 arrests. The group wants an update to agricultural laws as well as laws governing food waste to help the environment. The Berliner Zeitung quoted a legal expert who doubted the ability to bill the activists - dealing with protestors is a pretty normal police duty, he said.
A new regional train station
S-Bahnhof Köpenick will be transformed into a regional train station by 2027, gaining two new tracks and at least one platform, according to the Morgenpost. Deutsche Bahn had hoped to begin using the station for regional trains as early as 2007 but met with local resistance as planners feared the S-Bahn would lose riders and cargo trains could be delayed. The transformation means Union Berlin footie fans will be able to get to games quicker and discount cigarette buyers will be able to get to Poland via Frankfurt an der Oder more quickly. Southeast Berlin is the new Berlin.
Changes in drug use
Berlin’s hard drug users have moved to more relaxing substances during the pandemic and away from stimulants such as MDMA and cocaine, Tibor Harrasch, who heads a non-profit that soon hopes to offer drug checking services, told Tip Berlin. Germany’s new coalition promised to allow laboratories to evaluate the illegal drugs of users to determine their content and reduce the ingestion of dangerous adulterants. Harrasch said the new government has to first pass a budget and then two people have to be hired to handle the testing before the new policy can become a reality in Berlin. Harrasch, quoting figures from the Institute for Therapy Research, said users are also increasingly buying from acquaintances or online.
Berlin’s elevated trains celebrated their 140th birthday earlier this month and today, the U-Bahn turns 120. The first subway trains ran 120 years ago today but the first passengers didn’t board until three days later. The original route was largely the current U1. Happy birthday, you yellow beast!
I wouldn’t mind mask requirements if they allowed rewashable, sustainable cotton masks. Anyone who still has a working nose can tell you that the higher end of those work more like FFP2 than surgeons’ masks do, and they don’t need to involve plastics and micro plastics like synthetic masks do. I wish the greens or someone would get on this!