By Monika Müller-Kroll, Dina Elsayed and William Glucroft
Calls to impose tough measures, including fines, on demonstrators who do not abide by pandemic-related rules are getting louder in Berlin, after thousands took to the streets of Mitte on Saturday to protest against COVID-19 restrictions.
The head of the German Association of Cities, Helmut Dedy, told the Funke media group that demonstrations should not come at the cost of new coronavirus hot spots and that ignoring pandemic rules is “irresponsible.”
The Berlin police eventually dispersed the rally on Saturday, where officers reported few of the 20,000 participants were seen wearing a mouth and nose covering or keeping a minimum distance of 1.5 meters.
Berlin’s Housing Senator Katrin Lompscher resigned on Sunday.
Senators who earn money from sitting on boards of state-owned firms are only allowed to keep a portion of that compensation.
A spokeswoman for Lompscher, a member of Berlin’s Left Party in the state’s governing coalition, said she failed to forward about 7,000 euros of the approximately 24,000 euros she earned between 2017 and 2019, but she has now done so.
In her resignation letter, Lompscher said she had made a mistake, but it was not intentional. In a statement, the Left Party said it respected Lompscher’s decision and thanked her for her work.
The head of Berlin’s opposition CDU faction meanwhile said “many questions remain open,” and called for more transparency from the Berlin Senate.
German Health Minister Jens Spahn confirmed he wants to make COVID-19 tests mandatory this week for travelers returning from high-risk areas.
Spahn told public broadcaster ARD that the proposed requirement comes as Germany has built the capacity to conduct 1.2 million tests per week.
Spahn said the measure is being coordinated with the different states so that it could be implemented at airports and train stations around the country.
A negative test result would mean avoiding the two-week quarantine period, mandatory for travelers returning from high-risk areas.
This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.