By Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, Sylvia Cunningham and William Glucroft
The Berlin Senate on Tuesday mandated that masks be worn on 10 busy shopping streets, at outdoor markets — including Christmas markets — and when standing outside in line.
The 10 streets are: Tauentzienstraße (Schöneberg, Charlottenburg), Wilmersdorfer Straße (Charlottenburg), Kurfürstendamm (Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf), Altstadt Spandau, Schlossstraße (Steglitz), Bergmannstraße (Kreuzberg), Karl-Marx-Straße (Neukölln), Friedrichstraße (Mitte), Alte Schönhauser Straße (Mitte) and Bölschestraße (Friedrichshagen).
Mayor Michael Müller said it’s a last chance short of a lockdown to curb the skyrocketing infections across the city.
He and other officials also strongly encouraged people to wear masks whenever they are outdoors, especially when they can’t maintain a minimum 1.5-meter, or roughly 5-feet, distance from other people.
Berlin Health Senator Dilek Kalayci also said the new rules restrict outside private events to 25 people. Indoors, only two households, or one household and five other people are permitted to gather.
But Müller rejected a district mayor’s call for a two-week, Germany-wide lockdown in November to prevent one from having to be imposed at Christmas.
The mayor argued that it was very difficult for Berlin to bounce back from the first lockdown in the spring.
“I don’t want to do a short lockdown to prevent a long lockdown. We need to prevent one altogether,” Müller said.
Meanwhile, across Germany, courts are striking down bans on overnight stays for travelers from COVID-19 hot spots.
Of the three, Hamburg is the only one that has a seven-day infection rate that exceeds 50 per 100,000 residents, according to numbers from its own health office, technically classifying the city itself as a risk-area.
But it’s unclear how long these hotel bans will hold up, given that similar restrictions in other states have been overturned by courts in recent days.
On Tuesday, a court in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the state with the fewest COVID-19 cases, sided with two hotel businesses, overturning the state’s ban on travelers from domestic hot spots.
A gala to mark the long-delayed opening of Berlin’s BER Airport has been canceled.
Around 750 guests, including politicians and celebrities would have feted the new airport in a giant hall there at the end of the month to celebrate BER’s opening, which had been repeatedly delayed since 2012.
Organizers said they had measures in place to minimize the infection risk at the sold-out party, but decided to cancel it after Chancellor Angela Merkel recently called on the public to exercise common sense and reduce contact with others.
The seven-day infection rate on Tuesday was 40.8 per 100,000 people for the district where the airport is located.
Airport officials say a separate, smaller meet and greet will still go ahead.
This news is brought to you in cooperation with Berliner Rundfunk.