In Brief: Hundreds take part in test run at BER airport with grand opening 6 weeks away

KCRW Berlin’s Sylvia Cunningham was one of several hundred people who went to the Brandenburg site on Thursday to take part in a five-hour test run to identify any last-minute glitches.

Photo by Sylvia Cunningham

 

By Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and William Glucroft

Berlin’s new airport, BER, is scheduled to open on Oct. 31 after years of delay and billions of euros in cost overruns. 

KCRW Berlin’s Sylvia Cunningham was one of several hundred people who went to the Brandenburg site on Thursday to take part in a five-hour test run Thursday to identify any last-minute glitches.

Each tester was assigned a “character” to play, she said.

“It was like this elaborate play on a huge stage,” Cunningham explained. “There was the forgetful character, you know, the person who has to leave his spot in the security line because he forgot something in the car.”

“They even threw some curveballs at us,” she added. “When I returned from my second flight, all the monitors went dark and we had to go off a written board to find out where to check in.”

What Cunningham said she and some other testers found more daunting is how much construction is still going on less than two months before the scheduled opening.

So does our chief correspondent think BER will actually open as planned?

“I spoke with a Berliner who actually took part in a test about eight years ago and in his words, ‘Sie schaffen das,’ or they are going to manage to make it happen,” Cunningham said. “So I’m going to go with him, I think they’ll manage to do it on Oct. 31.”

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The German Foreign Ministry has issued new travel warnings to European destinations due to the pandemic. 

In place since Wednesday, the warnings affect cities and regions in at least seven EU states, as well as Switzerland. They include Vienna, Budapest, Amsterdam and parts of France, Croatia, Romania and the Czech Republic.

People coming to Germany from these and other risk areas must take a free COVID-19 test, and self-quarantine until they can present a negative result.

The federal government issues warnings when seven-day infection rates exceed 50 per 100,000 people, and are based on assessments from Germany’s disease prevention authority, the Robert Koch Institute.

A blanket travel warning for outside the EU and associated countries remains in effect until the end of the month.

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Berlin investigators are seeking witnesses — especially those with videos or photos — linked to a vehicular rampage on Aug. 18 that targeted motorcyclists on the A100 highway.

Six people were injured in the attack that police blamed on an Iraqi-born driver they arrested that day.

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

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