#76: Monkeypox, Mauerpark, Gorillas, Zolar, Holzmarkt
And Hertha saves its skin from relegation
Hey 20 Percent Berlin,
There’s nothing as boring-yet-vitally-important as a city budget. Berlin’s governing SPD-Grüne-Linke coalition Monday agreed on the pillars of its next two-year budget, or Doppelhaushalt, and I’ll try to summarise as briefly as possible before your eyelids get heavy. Here are some bullet points to throw around at parties:
Berlin’s annual budget will be €37.4 billion this year, €37.8 billion in 2023.
€650 million is earmarked per year for Ukrainian refugees — to be refunded by the national government.
€380 million set aside to help low-income Berliners tackle rising energy costs.
€200 million boost for school construction/renovation.
€570 million new investment in hospitals.
€110 million budget increase for the Bezirke (boroughs).
€23 million for Housing First, a project that provides long-term housing for homeless people.
€3 million for a new police station at Kottbusser Tor.
€15 million for the new Landeseinbürgerungsamt, i.e. where y’all can become Germans!
€2 million for 20 Percent Berlin (ok, not really, just seeing if you’re paying attention)
For me, the main takeaway is that the city wasn’t devastated financially during corona — in large part, let’s be honest, because of huge inputs of federal money. Austerity is a thing of the past, both locally and nationally. And Berlin’s tax revenue forecasts look pretty optimistic going forward: up by €541 million this year, up €789 million in 2023. It’s official: we’re no longer broke, but maybe we’re still a bit sexy.
Still awake? More news below.
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The Berlin corona stats for Tuesday, May 24
Received booster: 61.1% (61% Friday)
New cases in one day: 2,184 (1,637 Friday)
Total deaths: 4,574 (+30 since Friday)
🔴 7-day Covid-19 incidence (cases per 100,000): 250.2 (356.8 Friday)
🟡 7-day hospitalization incidence (also per 100,000): 6.0 (5.8 Friday)
🟢Covid-19 ICU patient occupancy: 3.8% (4.4% Friday)
Source: Berlin’s corona page
According to German health authorities, three cases of monkeypox have been confirmed in the capital and one in Munich. Health Minister Karl Lauterbach says he believes an outbreak can be contained if authorities act quickly. Local health departments have been told they can implement quarantines. Dr. Heiko Jessen, the Schöneberg GP and infectologist who registered the first two cases in Berlin, told Berliner Zeitung that the patients had shown mild symptoms and that he believed an epidemic was unlikely.
Reviving Berlin’s oldest rail line
Completed in 1838, the Stammbahn connecting Berlin and Potsdam was Prussia’s first railway line. But the tracks were damaged in the war and have been out of use ever since. On Monday, Berlin transport minister Bettina Jarasch (Grüne) and Brandenburg transport minister Guido Beermann (CDU) announced regional trains would re-connect Potsdamer Platz and Potsdam with stops in Zehlendorf, Kleinmachnow and Griebnitz. Sounds great, right? Unfortunately, a reopening isn’t planned until the “late 2030s”.
€100m for Berlin solar firm
Zolar, a local company that rents and installs photovoltaic systems to home-owners is booming, thanks to rising energy prices, and has attracted €100 million in fresh capital to cope with demand. “Our goal is to supply 10 million households in Europe with either a solar system or renewable energy by 2030,” said CEO Alex Melzer. Back in March, Berlin’s tree-planting search engine Ecosia ploughed €23 million into Zolar.
Gorillas fires half of office staff
This just in: Berlin grocery delivery unicorn Gorillas is firing about 300 employees in admin positions — and leaving Italy, Spain, Denmark and Belgium to focus on Germany, France, the US and the Netherlands. It’s not yet clear how many jobs are being axed in Berlin. Delivery riders are apparently not affected (except, I presume, in countries they’re exiting). Techcrunch has the full report.
Hertha narrowly escapes disgrace
With a 2-0 win in a relegation playoff with Hamburg’s HSV, Berlin’s Hertha BSC footballers prevented a disgraceful descent into the 2nd division of the Bundesliga in the 2022/23 season. Fans are celebrating defender Marvin Plattenhardt. The first goal came when his corner was headed in the net by Hertha captain Dedryck Boyata, the second through a fantastic free-kick. Highlights with English commentary here.
Mauerpark Karaoke returns
Bearpit Karaoke returned to the Mauerpark amphitheatre on Sunday. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, Pankow authorities granted Irish-Berliner Joe Hatchiban permission to set up his sound system (which fits on his cargobike) on the stone stage to the delight of hundreds. Hatchiban has hosted Sunday karaoke in the park since 2009.
Holzmarkt turns 10
The riverside complex that rose from the ashes of epic outdoor techno club Bar 25 has turned 10 and, for 10 days beginning May 28, Holzmarkt is celebrating with 10 days of movies, parties, talks and kids events. Whatever you think of the place, you have to admit that the ex-ravers managed to create something extraordinary on the banks of the Spree. Beats another generic hostel or sterile office tower. Instead, we have a collection of odd buildings in which a bit of not-so-long-ago Berlin has somehow been preserved — which is always open to the public. Even Bar 25 will be resurrected.