From now on the Checkpoint will be available in English (Monday to Friday). You can find it on the Tagesspiegel website from 11a.m. We’ll update you on all relevant Corona and Berlin News. This service is free. Recommend the English Checkpoint to your friends, colleagues, uni mates and all those who live here, whose mother tongue isn’t German.
Freiburg: First Large German City Under Curfew
“I don’t give a damn about Corona”, said an acquaintance at a recent gathering. That was exactly two weeks and two days ago. It sounded crude and nonchalant but not absurd. Now this is a sentence from another world. The tragedy is that many of the presumed main carriers of the virus –young adults– carry on living by this motto.
As the first of Germany’s large cities to take such a step, Freiburg last night imposed a curfew. Markus Söder, Minister President of Bavaria, has threatened the same if people don’t come to their senses.
Söder has generally been one or two days ahead of his ministerial colleagues, so his announcement can be understood as an indication of what we can expect here, too. We'll keep you up to date in the national news blog.
In the US: Highest International Travel Warning Imposed – Health Emergency Imminent in New York – Indefinite Curfew in California
The Coronavirus is hitting the U.S. hard and two governmental decisions on pausing international flights suggest this disruption could go on longer than originally thought. Yesterday afternoon the State Department called all U.S. citizens abroad to come home immediately or prepare to remain in place for an indefinite period of time.
An urgent “discouragement against international travel” was issued, which is the strongest travel warning there is. Later in the evening, California imposed an indefinite curfew. The health situation in New York City was called explosive, with 4000 infections.
The actual number is expected to be significantly higher due to low testing-rates at the beginning of the crisis. However, the city has not yet been locked down.
Soon More Than 10.000 Infected Expected in Berlin
At yesterday’s special sitting of Berlin’s senate it was only Health Senator Dilek Kalayci who was in favor of a very rapid curfew. However, Berlin’s Mayor Michael Müller had also mentioned this as a possibility. The number of registered infection cases in Berlin rose by a third within one day, now counting 688.
But it is estimated that those numbers are a week behind and that in reality, case numbers are higher. If the rate of infection continues to grow at it’s present rate, by tomorrow we will have crossed the mark to 1000 infected, and next week we’ll reach around 10,000. Just in Berlin. In case you’re wondering where a stroll could lead you these days: go donate blood!
This is even more urgent, as the German Red Cross (DRK) has had most of their contact points closed. Ask a German-speaking friend to help you call the hotline and find out where you can donate (if you are healthy and over 18 years old): Hotline 0800 1194911.
Berlin’s Senate to Provide Emergency Relief of €600m
The Senate last night announced an Emergency Relief package for businesses, solo-entrepreneurs and freelancers with a total value of €600m. Of which €100m are set aside for small businesses (Kleinstunternehmen) with a staff of up to five employees.
The need will have to be proven, and information on how to obtain this aid will be published within the next days on the Berlin Investitionsbank’s website. Larger companies can also expect (relatively) unbureaucratic support. We will keep you posted here.
The Chamber of Commerce (IHK) Starts Hotline and Daily Newsletter on Berlin’s Econom
The IHK describes the situation of Berlin’s economy as "devastating". There is talk of "widespread desperation". After yesterday’s mentions of the hotlines that provide info and assistance by the Investitionsbank, Visit Berlin and Berlin Partner, the IHK has now also established a line and mails out information for companies and businesspeople.
Up to 3000 calls from entrepreneurs were registered daily. The number is (030) 3151 0919, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The newsletter is in German only, and you can sign up here: https://www.ihk-berlin.de/corona-newsletter
Hospitality Businesses Already Insolvent
Some of what Berliners and their guests usually eat in restaurants is now delivered on bikes. But it is not enough to save the hospitality sector: School caterers for example fear for their businesses but many local restaurant owners are in fact already insolvent, like owner and chef Björn Nitz who wrote to the Tagesspiegel:
“Please officially close the restaurants and impose a curfew!”, he begs both state and federal governments: After two of the weakest months of the year now, March sales have gone down by 90 percent. Savings are already gone and it is impossible to continue payments for the staff or operating costs. “We can no longer pay our bills, nor electricity, nor the rent!” The house bank is unable to offer help without binding commitments from politicians.
The State Authority for Health and Social Services (LaGeSo) to Stop Issuing the Berlin Pass and Severely Handicapped Pass
This is also important: For now, the Berlin Pass (i.e. the S(ocial) Ticket) will no longer be extended but will remain valid even after expiration. According to the LaGeSo, the pension office is currently forced to suspend processing and delivering of the severely handicapped pass. The administrative number 115 can be reached for general questions.
Police Register Almost 100 Infringements Against the Infection Protection Law
Tagesspiegel Checkpoint reader Ulrich P. thinks that announcements by loudspeaker could make the seriousness of the situation clearer to ignorant people. When asked, the police say they prefer personal conversation to disperse groups of over 50 people in parks, but are prepared to use loudspeakers if necessary.
And on the subject of acceptance: During the night on Thursday, 154 clubs, restaurants, bars, shops, etc. were checked. 97 were believed to have violated regulations, 59 were closed, and twelve criminal charges were filed.
Illegal Sales of Protection Materials
A Charlottenburg shop offering “medical hygiene materials” opened its doors yesterday and was forced to close immediately afterwards, as the sale of disinfectant, protective masks and single-use gloves were illegal. According to the staff, some of the goods apparently came from medical practices.
Berlin AfD Chief Spreads Fake News About Coronavirus
Spreading fake news is a matter for the head of Berlin’s AfD (Alternative für Deutschland): Georg Pazderski posted a video on Twitter allegedly showing teenagers sharing a lollipop. His comment: “Teenagers without empathy, stupid rich kids that take to the streets on Fridays for #FFF, blame the older generation for jeapordising their future and now show how far their horizons actually go.” The video is from October 2019.
Join the Applause, Saturday at 7pm
Another appointment for the weekend: More and more people are calling to follow the Italian example of showing gratitude to all those bravely continue to serve the public good in the fight against the Coronavirus. On Saturday, you’re invited to step out onto your balcony (if you have one) or open the window at 7pm and give a round of applause!
"Schnee von morgen"
This is a nice one because now we enter the land of proverbs. You know the expression “snow from yesterday”? When something is old news? Well, the Tagesspiegel Checkpoint is giving away tomorrow’s snow. A snow glass ball. A classic Berlin souvenir. Yes this might be sentimental kitsch, but it’s also important to have something lighter to end the current information with, don’t you agree?
Today is the beginning of spring! So we’re giving away a miniature “Little Big City” complete with shiny fake snow, the Brandenburg Gate, Oberbaum Bridge and the TV Tower to someone who by Sunday has sent us a homemade spring poem (minimum 4 lines) to email@example.com
The winners shall decided by the 8-year-old daughter of today’s Checkpoint writer Stefan Jacobs. The best contributions will be published on Monday, when we are back with Checkpoint. Until then, stay healthy, flatten the curve, stay inside and help your neighbours.