In Brief: Masking requirement starts in Berlin office and government buildings on Saturday

Workers can remove their masks if they are sitting at their desks, according to new pandemic rules passed by the Berlin Senate.

Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

 

 

By Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, William Glucroft and Sylvia Cunningham

Starting on Saturday, everyone will have to wear masks inside Berlin office and government buildings.

Workers can remove them if they are sitting at their desks, according to new pandemic rules passed by the Berlin Senate.

But not everyone agrees with the new masking requirement. The head of the business-friendly Free Democrats in the House of Representatives, Sebastian Czaja, argues there is no point in adding new restrictions when the old ones aren’t being sensibly applied.

Berlin Mayor Michael Müller told the dpa news agency that more than 1,000 police officers have been fanning out across the city to enforce pandemic-related hygiene and tracking rules.

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Meanwhile, the German federal police union said it lacks the resources to implement the latest pandemic restrictions at borders.

Stricter quarantine enforcement for people arriving from high-risk areas means German police need to check passenger IDs and forward them onto public health offices.

The federal police union chief told RP Online that it’s a big challenge for arrivals from inside the visa-free Schengen Area due to limited border controls.

Schengen covers much of the European Union, and many parts are seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Union Chief Sven Hüber told KCRW Berlin he hopes an electronic system that transfers passenger data directly to health offices in real time will eliminate the police role.

“We’ll have to see if it actually works,” Hüber said. “More personnel and controls are not the answer.”

German health offices are tasked with checking for quarantine violations, which is difficult without accurate passenger information.

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Former Audi CEO Rupert Stadler is on trial five years after parent company Volkswagen confessed to cheating on diesel vehicle emissions tests.

He is accused of fraud, among other charges.

The public prosecutor’s office in Munich claims Stadler knew about Volkswagen’s scheme to tamper with its engines beforehand, which he denies.

Media reports said he and his three co-defendants face up to 10 years if convicted.

The scandal, widely known as Dieselgate, has cost the Volkswagen Group more than 30 billion euros in fines and lawsuits.

The trial is expected to last two years.

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

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