In Brief: Berlin court rejects restaurant owners’ appeal to overturn lockdown rules

While the plaintiffs argued they were not “drivers of the pandemic,” the judges decided that wasn’t something they could prove.

Photo by Tingey Injury Law Firm on Unsplash

By Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson and Kate Brady

Berlin’s Administrative Court on Tuesday upheld key lockdown measures in the German capital.

Nearly two dozen restaurant owners had sued over being forced to close, which they argued was unfair because retailers, hair salons and religious services were not shut down.

The plaintiffs also argued they were not “drivers of the pandemic.”

But the judges wrote the plaintiffs couldn’t prove their establishments weren’t helping spread the disease. They wrote that officials across Germany these days are unable to pinpoint the source of three-quarters of the infections.

***

The rise in coronavirus cases is also taking its toll on the ability of Berlin health authorities to track and trace new infections.

Experts have warned that until a vaccine is available, track-and-trace mechanisms remain the most effective way of limiting the spread of COVID-19.

The problem is, it only works when there’s a manageable number of infections, which hasn’t been the case in recent months.

In a statement to public broadcaster rbb, Berlin’s health department said it was currently unable to trace “a clear source of infection” in 94% of cases.

So for now, health authorities say they are concentrating their track and trace efforts on risk groups — especially the elderly and people in care homes.

Even so, a growing number of older people are being infected and a fifth of ICU beds here are currently occupied by COVID-19 patients.

***

The pandemic is causing an unprecedented slump in sales at German restaurants and hotels that threaten their existence, according to a new survey by the businesses’ federal association (DEHOGA).

The survey found one of every six establishments is facing bankruptcy because of the pandemic.

The group’s president, Guido Zöllick, said the aid pledged by the federal government can’t come soon enough.

“Our companies have their backs against the wall,” he said. “Every day counts.”

The survey found shutdowns, social-distancing rules and limits on capacity are all to blame for the financial slump faced by 71.3% of the nearly 8,900 respondents.

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

You can count us for factual and informative content. We are the go-to source for the English-language community in Berlin and beyond. If you haven’t yet, be sure to subscribe to all of our original news, music and storytelling shows, including “Common Ground,” “Studio Berlin,” “Amplified,” “Leitmotifs,” and “The Bear on KCRW Berlin” available wherever you get your podcasts.