In Brief: Berlin Senate to decide which COVID-19 measures to ease next

Der Tagesspiegel reports more people will likely be allowed to attend indoor and outdoor events in Berlin, provided they adhere to hygiene and social distancing rules.

By Sylvia Cunningham, Caleb Larson and Monika Müller-Kroll

The Berlin Senate will decide in a special session today which COVID-19 measures to ease next.

According to the daily, Der Tagesspiegel, more people will likely be allowed to attend indoor and outdoor events, provided they adhere to hygiene and social distancing rules.

It’s also possible fitness studios could reopen as soon as June 6.

What’s less clear is when bars and pubs will reopen, especially in the wake of recent protests.

Berlin bar owner Norbert Raeder told public broadcaster rbb it doesn’t make sense that places that offer food can open, while those that don’t offer food cannot.

But city officials have previously justified the move by saying people in bars are less likely to follow pandemic-related rules.

When making decisions about loosening or reimplementing restrictions, the city Senate takes at least three major factors into account, including the coronavirus reproduction rate, the number of new infections, and the availability of intensive care beds. As of Wednesday, none of these factors were cause for concern.

***

Politically motivated crimes rose in Germany in 2019, according to the interior minister and German police.

Police recorded more than 41,000 cases of politically motivated crime last year, roughly 14% more than in 2018. Anti-Semitic crimes were up 13%, while attacks on Muslims were up 4.4%.

Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told reporters at a news conference that over half of those crimes ⁠— most of which were hate crimes⁠ — were committed by far-right extremists.

Politically motivated crimes include verbal abuse, arson, assault, and murder.

Right-wing perpetrators were responsible for several high-profile homicide cases in 2019, including the murder of pro-refugee politician Walter Lübcke, as well as the Halle and Hanau shootings.

Meanwhile, crimes committed by religious extremists were down more than 27%.

***

The sound of samba will be missing from the streets of Kreuzberg this coming weekend, as Berlin’s Carnival of Cultures has been called off.

Ahead of what would have been the festival’s 25th anniversary, organizers say they fear that Berlin’s cultural landscape won’t be the same after the pandemic is over.

Organizers also say they worry a free society is increasingly in danger, especially amid closed borders and demonstrations with far-right protesters at the forefront.

This Sunday, public broadcaster rbb will be streaming festival highlights from the past 24 years.

This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.  

For up-to-date information on what you should be doing to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, check our fact sheet. 

Whether it’s our coverage of the coronavirus, rent freezes or more light-hearted subjects like Berlin’s pandas, you can count us for factual and informative content. We are the go-to source for the English-as-a-common-language community in Berlin and beyond. The pandemic will challenge us to find new ways of doing reporting, but we will continue to bring you the programming you love and news you can trust. We are a listener-funded public radio station, driven by donors like you. So please consider donating today to keep us on air, online and in your community.