In Brief: Chancellor Merkel announces ‘lockdown light’ restrictions

The new rules come just before the Robert Koch Institute, Germany’s disease prevention authority, on Thursday reported a record 16,774 new infections over a 24-hour period.

Photo by Anastasiia Chepinska on Unsplash

 

By Monika Müller-Kroll, Kate Brady and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

Chancellor Angela Merkel announced on Wednesday sweeping new restrictions to curb the worsening pandemic.

Protesters from Berlin’s hospitality industry who fear for their livelihoods marched on the chancellery before she spoke.

Merkel insisted there was no longer a choice but to act.

“We are at a point where we don’t know where 75% of the infections started,” she said.

The restrictions will begin on Monday, Nov. 2 and will last until the end of the month.

Restaurants will be limited to takeout or delivery service and bars will be closed, as will sports and cultural facilities.

Also, only members from two households, a maximum of 10 people, will be allowed to meet.

The Berlin Senate, meanwhile, is mandating masks be worn on 23 more city streets as of Saturday, Oct. 31.

Check out our COVID-19 information page for more details on the new rules.

***

Berlin officials report the city’s real estate sales and prices fell drastically in the first half of this year.

Residential and commercial buildings, as well as office space were particularly affected, with turnover in sales of office buildings alone collapsing by 70% compared to the previous year.

The number of residential and commercial buildings sold fell by more than a third.

Head of the Senate’s property valuation committee Reiner Rössler told the Berlin daily, Der Tagesspiegel, that “people are insecure and have been reluctant to buy investment properties since the introduction of the rent cap.

But there was still a strong demand for private real estate as well as property bought for the construction of family homes.

***

A city in eastern Germany will become one of two European cultural capitals in 2025.

Chemnitz won the title over seven other German cities. A Slovenian city to be picked later will share the title.

They will host cultural events in 2025 promoting pan-European themes.

Saxony’s premier Michael Kretschmer said he was thrilled and that Chemnitz could prove a strong inspiration for many places in Europe.

Chemnitz officials have worked hard over the past year to shed the city’s image as a hub for far-right and neo-Nazi demonstrators.

Almost a quarter of Chemnitz residents voted for far-right Alternative for Germany candidates in the 2017 elections.

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

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.