In Brief: New COVID-19 restrictions in Berlin start Saturday

Berlin senators agreed Tuesday to limit business hours in response to two of the city’s COVID-19 “traffic lights” flipping to red for the first time.

Photo by Christian Lue at Unsplash

 

 

By Sylvia Cunningham, William Glucroft and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson

Starting Saturday for the next three weeks, restaurants, bars and shops in Berlin must close between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Also between those hours, no more than five people or individuals from two households can meet.

Outside of those hours, no more than 10 people can meet for private parties indoors.

Berlin senators agreed to these new rules Tuesday evening in response to two of the city’s COVID-19 “traffic lights” flipping to red for the first time.

Not only was the seven-day incidence rate at 44.2 new infections per 100,000 inhabitants as of Tuesday night, but the reproduction rate was at 1.26, meaning one infected person goes on to infect more than one other person. The only traffic light on green is the number of intensive beds in use. At 3.1%, that number is well below the critical level.

In a press conference, Berlin Mayor Michael Müller stressed the seriousness of the situation. He implored Berliners to work together to curb the coronavirus, adding these measures are necessary to avoid the total closure of restaurants and bars like in the spring.

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Germany Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said Tuesday a new report shows “no structural problem” with right-wing extremism among the country’s security forces.

The intelligence report identifies more than 370 suspected cases of far-right activity within state and federal security forces between 2017 and this past March.

Seehofer maintains the issue is not systemic and objects to further research.

Critics like Greens MP Irene Mihalic says otherwise.

Mihalic told public broadcaster ZDF she can’t understand Seehofer’s resistance to a more scientific approach, also supported by some police officials. She’s calling for an investigation into the extent of the problem and its causes.

The official report follows several cases this year revealing sympathy for the far-right within the police and military.

Just last week, Berlin police were pressed to open an investigation into allegations of at least two dozen officers taking part in a racist and xenophobic chat group.

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A Bavarian man is Germany’s two-time winner for the heaviest pumpkin.

Michael Asam’s entry this year at the Pumpkin Festival in Ludwigsburg weighed 720.5 kilograms. That’s enough pumpkin for about 1,600 pies!

The Heretshausen man’s winning pumpkin weighs about 200 kilos less than the heaviest one ever entered in the German contest.

A record number of pumpkins were entered in the contest despite coronavirus restrictions that meant no audience and prize money of only 500 euros, which is half of last year’s winnings.

Next up for the giant pumpkins is the European contest that will take place this weekend at the same venue in Baden-Württemberg, but with entrants from only a few countries because of pandemic-related travel restrictions.

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

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