Update

Fines of up to 500 Euros for Violations : Berlin Senate Drafts a Catalogue of Fines

Since the shutdown began, cases of domestic violence have increased in the city. Refugees from Lesbos may be brought to Berlin. And this is how the world reacts to the pandemic.

Kathleen Wächter Lily Coates
On Tuesday, the Berlin senate debates to fine people for breaking the rules during lockdown.
On Tuesday, the Berlin senate debates to fine people for breaking the rules during lockdown.Foto: Hannibal Hanschke/REUTERS

From Monday to Friday at around 11am, an English translation of CheckpointTagesspiegel's daily Berlin newsletter, will be provided on the Tagesspiegel website. We will update you on all relevant Coronavirus and Berlin news for free. Please recommend the English Checkpoint to your friends, colleagues, fellow students, and all non-native speakers who live in the city (learn more about the German edition here). Translation: Kathleen Wächter, Lily Coates

FDP (Free Democratic Party) federal chairwoman Katja Suding has started the week thoughtfully: “What’s life worth if our freedom to live is being taken away?“, she wrote on Twitter. The answer came as a counter-question: "How free is one when one is no longer alive?"

This non-freedom is one of the very variables of the Corona crisis. No one knows exactly, and no one can know exactly what the right level of restrictions is and how long we will be forced to endure them. Therefore it is important to keep questioning political measures - over and over again. But it is at least just as important to stick to the given regulations and understand that they are justified by an absolute emergency situation.


„All people over 70 y.o. in quarantine - how crazy“, a Checkpoint reader wrote to us last week (although this was ‚just‘ a recommendation). „I myself am 27 y.o. and am trying to avoid any contact“, I responded. This virus exists and it is dangerous, and for the sake of everyone’s wellbeing that will have to mean for a while: limit yourself. Yes, there is a lot of uncertainty but one thing is pretty sure: it can only work out well if we surrender now. 

17 Died in Wolfsburg Nursing Home

200 km away, in Wolfsburg, we see the tragic results of a virus now out of control: already 17 inhabitants of the Hanns-Lilje Nursing Home for the elderly and people with dementia have passed due to being infected with Coronavirus.

A Wolfsburg lawyer has now filed criminal charges of involuntary manslaughter against the operator of the home, the Wolfsburg Diaconia. Hygiene was insufficient, protection measures were taken far too late. Germany’s most well-known virologist Christian Drosten is talking about a new phase in the Corona pandemic in Germany - and is expecting an increasing mortality rate.

The Hanns Lilje senior care in Wolfsburg, northern Germany. The care home has recorded 17 deaths.
The Hanns Lilje senior care in Wolfsburg, northern Germany. The care home has recorded 17 deaths.Foto: Ronny Hartmann/AFP

Berlin Catalogue of Fines

The current number of confirmed infections in Berlin is 2,581, and 13 have died. 1,055 have recovered. No reason to relax the restrictions, found Senator for the Interior, Andreas Geisel (SPD) on Monday. Extended visits outdoors, sitting on benches or lawns will remain prohibited. Today, Tuesday, the Senate will sit to discuss a catalogue of fines.

Those not complying to the minimum distance of 1.5 metres might have to pay between 50 and 500 Euros. 25 to 75 Euros is the fine for not carrying an ID, and up to 500 Euros applies for being outside for no serious reason. Businesses that are currently forced to close risk a 10,000 Euro infringement if they don’t comply. Anyone who attends events or gatherings with "three or more participants" is committing an offence.

The limits of Berlins liberty fixated in a regulation? On Twitter, MP Niklas Schrader (Left) announced: "This is the draft of a senate administration, which will not be decided in this way“.

A police officer talking to a man in a public park in Berlin.
A police officer talking to a man in a public park in Berlin.Foto: Christophe Gateau/dpa

Berlin Ignores Suggesion of Former IBB Head

The Council of Economic Experts is expecting a decline of this year’s gross domestic product of up to 5,4 Percent in Germany. By yesterday afternoon, already 53,000 Berlin businesses and Solo entrepreneurs had received the IBB subsidy worth 500 Million euro.  Another 200M for 20,000 further companies is estimated to be paid over the coming week, with the hope that servers won’t collapse, that applications won’t be mixed up and that any attempts to commit fraud will be prevented.

The behaviour of the „home“ banks remains a giant problem, for whom not even the KfW’s (credit institution for reconstruction and development) 90% indemnity against liability is enough to grant the loans. We reported this in yesterday’s Checkpoint. „The mood amongst devastated business owners is about to escalate“, former IBB boss Dieter Puchta writes in an email to the Chamber of Commerce, which is before us at Checkpoint.

Dieter Puchta, former CEO of the Berlin Investment Bank (IBB).
Dieter Puchta, former CEO of the Berlin Investment Bank (IBB).Foto: Thilo Rückeis

„Unfortunately, neither the CoC nor the states government have picked up on my suggestion from 17th March“, he writes. That suggestion was: "The house banks shall make an overdraft / credit at a value of 10.000 euro available immediately to all business owning customers, who so far led their account decently. The state would 'guarantee' the banks the amount if it cannot be repaid within two to three years.“ This would have been a quick, unbureaucratic way indeed - would have been.

Corona Hospital in the Making

The sooner, the better: The construction of the Corona hospital is due to begin tomorrow. Health Senator Dilek Kalayci (SPD) and the state owned Vivantes clinics have come to an agreement that support for the construction will be provided by Vivantes experts, according to Tagesspiegel information.

The project lead remains with Albrecht Broemme, former Berlin chief of the fire brigade and ex-president of the THW (technical relief agency) who has helped installing military hospitals in crisis regions previously. 1000 beds are planned along with 800 staff. The personnel should consist of mobilised pensioners, medical students and employers of currently closed rehabilitation facilities.

Patients waiting in front of a doctors office in Berlin to get tested.
Patients waiting in front of a doctors office in Berlin to get tested.Foto: Kay Nietfeld/dpa

Berlin GP turns Practise Pandemic-Proof

Despite the lack of protection gear and support, Berlin GP Sibylle Katzenstein has turned her practise into a pandemic-proof space. Already four weeks ago, she began doing her daily work more or less without contact. The procedure: after a consultation on the phone, patients are either visited at home or come to the practise separately, and those suspected to have a Corona infection are being given a self-test.

„I haven’t used a single protection mask and not endangered anyone“, says Katzenstein, who calls for an inclusion of all sectors of the health system into the crisis. Her idea: a care chain from 1) the GP, who can assess patients through a plexiglas screen, to 2) ambulatory radiology practices, who x-ray corona patients, to 3) the decision whether the patients should be placed in home quarantine (no pneumonia) or in intensive care (severe course).

Cem Özdemir from the Greens commented on Twitter: "Your ideas could become a model to avoid the closure of practices. What do you think, National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians?"

Corona in the World - an Overview

In Italy, numbers of new infections have stabilized, the country is considering the end of the shutdown.

Spain is increasing its measures: all employees who aren’t systemically relevant will have to stay home until 9th April. In Austria, people have to wear facial protection from now on if they are in supermarkets. This decision will soon apply to all public activities.
The Hungarian Parlament has granted Prime Minister Viktor Orban additional rights without imposing a time limit - he can now govern by decree for an unlimited period of time under the emergency.

In India, hundreds of millions are fleeing to their home regions despite - or because of the lockdown. China has reported an increase of domestic violence by a third. In the US, president Trump said, if death tolls were limited to 100,000 due to the restriction measures in place, „we would then have done a good job“.

The World Stands Still - Reaction of a Time Researcher

A majority of the world has come to a halt. What effect does that have on us? Checkpoint asked someone, who, since 30 years, trades time as a profession and who doesn’t wear a watch. „Slowdown has never been so fast“, Karlheinz Geißler from the Institute of Time Consultation in Munich wrote. „I rush, therefore I am“ - doesn’t work anymore. And neither does the phrase of ‚sorry, no time!‘.

'Slow down!“ - is the new urgent appeal and reminder from politicians to their fellow countrymen. Not a bad idea. Those who follow them will experience: 'That it is so easy to want to do nothing more. That it is so difficult for us to really do nothing' (E. Bloch). Now that we are forced to stay at home, to wait and see, time no longer is a scarce commodity. Time is no longer money, as it used to be before. (...)

Perhaps life is quite nice when we don't rush out of our apartments every morning and then begin to sweat in the traffic jam because we might not make to the first appointment of the day in time. Instead of ‚life doesn’t happen later, but now‘ - how about tackling the really important questions, like: How do I actually want to live? And when is it enough? What is good for me, what is it that makes me happy? Enough of the excuse: 'Actually I am quite different, I only get to it so rarely' (Horváth). We have enough time.“

Berlin before and during Coronavirus

The before and after the Corona crisis in Berlin. The Guardian puts it on display and shows the direct comparison: The city before Corona, packed - and now empty. It is both impressive and depressing.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas, Pleased with Getting Travellers Home from Abroad

„We are happy that 175,000 are back home“, Heiko Maas (SPD) commented on getting travellers home from abroad. „We ask those still abroad to be patient. Our staff at the Federal Foreign Office is working around the clock. We are on it!“

Near the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece.
Near the Moria refugee camp on Lesbos, Greece.Foto: Elias Marcou/REUTERS

Berlin To Take Refugees From Lesbos

„A justification is very much needed, why the Federation in the Corona crisis is able to fly home more than 170,000 holidaymakers from all parts of the world within a few days and at the same time does not succeed in rescuing the refugees on Lesbos from their unbearable situation and bringing them to Germany," says Berlin's Senator of Justice Dirk Behrendt (Greens). If the Federal Government continues to remain inactive, the state wants to become active in "hours rather than days" and fly 500 to 1,500 people out - together with civil society organisations. 20,000 refugees are currently stuck on Lesbos - under the most inhuman conditions.

"Even in times of Crisis, Protection of the People is a State Responsibility"

"Even in times of crisis, protection against violence is a state task," writes Maria Wersig, professor of law and president of the German Women Lawyers' Association. Cases of domestic violence are already increasing in Berlin. "The expansion of women's shelter capacities mustn’t be taboo and counselling centres need support in expanding mobile and digital services.“

Racist Attack

A 55 y.o. Berlin man called the police on Monday because he had been insulted and attacked in his home. He stated that, due to the current danger of infection, he had asked two men to be allowed to use the elevator alone. One of them allegedly hit him in the face.

We don’t want to jinx it but for all of you working from home (the ‚home office‘): why don’t you take some time and back up your data? Today is World-Backup-Day, just saying…

We will be back tomorrow!

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