Michael Müller: “The city will be different, but it will still be our Berlin”

An English transcript of the Berlin mayor's televised corona speech. 

Berlin-On 16 March 2020, Berlin mayor Michael Müller held a speech on city's response to the coronavirus crisis. Here's the complete address in English, published by Berlin's Press and Information Office.

The Governing Mayor of Berlin Michael Müller
The Governing Mayor of Berlin Michael Müller

“Berliners, once more, Berlin is experiencing a major crisis. A crisis that will be felt by every one of us. However, in times of trial, the people of our city have always shown what cohesion, what a sense of community really means.

We will all have to live with severe restrictions due to coronavirus in Berlin. But we must do everything in our power to at least delay the spread of the virus, so that our otherwise well-positioned healthcare facilities can cope with the number of critically ill patients.

In order to keep the number of new infections as low as possible, we have had to shut down public life to a great extent.

We will all have to cut back, do without things we are used to. But I am certain that every one of you wants to help and understands that we all have to comply with the unavoidable new restrictions on our everyday lives.

Our measures can only work if we minimise social contact wherever possible. That’s why we are shutting down all elements of daily and cultural life that are not absolutely essential and appealing to businesses to let their employees work from home wherever possible, which is what we are doing with our administration.

The silent heroes right now are those who are working tirelessly to serve their communities. They are working in hospitals, doctors’ offices, laboratories, the police department and fire brigade. They provide us with electricity and water, dispose of our waste and keep public transport and essential public services going. They fill the shelves, sit at the check-outs of supermarkets and make sure we get our medicine. They work for social services and look after the children of people who are indispensable in their workplace.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those people on behalf of the Senate and all Berliners. And I want to ask you to listen to what these people tell you, show them kindness and respect and thank them for what they do for us all.

This appreciation includes recognising that we need to offer vital support like childcare to those who are taking care of people who are ill or at risk and to those who keep our city running. Everyone else can show their solidarity by taking a step back and, if at all possible, staying at home.

Berliners, medicine and science are teaching us new things about the virus every day. The best scientists are based here in Berlin. They are advising me and my Senate as well as the federal government. We heed their advice. And yet we know: what may seem right and sufficient today might be obsolete tomorrow. We have to respond to a situation that is evolving every day.

In times like these, trust and a sense of community are the most valuable currency we have. This also applies to politics and civil society. Everyone has to do what needs to be done. Everyone has to help. And everyone can help!

Of course we know how dramatic the impact of the current measures will be for our economy and that employees, the self-employed and cultural professionals are concerned about their businesses, their income and their jobs. We will provide support quickly and with minimum bureaucracy. As the state of Berlin, we will complement the measures announced by the federal government, with whom we are in contact at all times, where necessary.

I know that we are asking a lot. And I trust in your solidarity. If there are older people amongst your neighbours or friends, or people who suffer from respiratory disease, help those people to stay home in order to reduce their risk of infection. For example, help them with their shopping. Please follow the rules on hygiene and the guidelines from our Robert Koch Institute at all times.

We Berliners have overcome difficult situations many times before. Part of the city’s spirit is the way it shows strength and solidarity especially in times of crisis and its ability to overcome adversity – these Berlin virtues make me feel confident that together we will be able to shoulder and endure the drastic measures we are taking to contain the virus.

I cannot rule out that further restrictions will follow, and I hope for your understanding.

Berliners, I know that we can rely on you in the fight against the coronavirus. Look after yourselves and your loved ones in the coming days and weeks. Look after your neighbours and all those who now need our help the most.

And above all, stay healthy!”