Social distancing no longer a thing 
Photo: Paul Zinken/dpa

BerlinFor those of you in Mitte: Congrats. The district has the second highest rate of new infections in Germany behind Bavaria’s Dingolfing-Landau. Mitte had 28.1 new corona cases per 100,000 inhabitants over the last seven days compared to 93.5 in the Bavarian county, according to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI).

For comparison, one of Berlin’s three corona traffic warning lights will turn yellow at 20-per-100,000 and red at 30.

Overall, Berlin reported 12.5 new infections per 100,000 over the past week, according to RKI, also second behind North-Rhine Westphalia at 13.7.

To ban or not to ban

Berlin politicians continue to quibble over the best way to combat lax compliance with corona restrictions among the city’s drinkers. Mitte Mayor Stephan van Dassel (SPD) said Thursday on Inforadio that a promise to add 240 new code enforcement officers to better combat corona violations amounted to little more than sleight-of-hand and would take too long to be useful.

The workers would be borrowed from other areas, neglecting parking or dog-law violations, and would require training as well as clearance from district officials, delaying additional enforcement.

The promise of more officers arose from a Wednesday meeting after Dilek Kalayci (SPD), head of the health department, threatened a city-wide alcohol ban if bars and restaurants didn’t pay more attention to the laws.

Politicians instead agreed that stricter enforcement of existing rules –including the closure of serial violaters - would be a better idea.

Andreas Geisel, head of Berlin's interior department, denied von Dassel’s sleight of hand accusation and said additional officers would be hired – more details were to be released Friday.

Believe it or not: Berlin has 900 code enforcement officers, including 500 who oversee illegal activities outside of parking. The remaining 400 write parking tickets in the seven districts with paid parking spots.

Karl Lauterbach, the SPD’s health expert, told Der Spiegel he wants all you Hasenheide partiers masking up if you can’t keep distance from one another.

Eight cases, one school

Only three days into Berlin’s new school year and at least one school – the Gerhart-Hauptmann-Gymnasium in Treptow-Köpenick remained closed Thursday after a teacher tested positive for the coronavirus.

The school may open on Friday. But also maybe not.

The case is one of eight known in Berlin schools that have led to a handful of quarantines but no other closures.

According to current information, these other schools are also affected by corona infections:

Neukölln

  • Karl Weise Elementary School. 1 school employee infected, 11 in quarantine. No students affected.

Steglitz-Zehlendorf

  • Anna Essinger Community School, 1 student infected, 3 teachers and 1 learning group in quarantine

Reinickendorf:

  • Gustav-Freytag-Oberschule, 1 student infected, learning group and teachers in quarantine
  • Max-Beckmann-Oberschule, 1 student infected, learning group and teachers in quarantine
  • Thomas-Mann-Gymnasium, 1 student infected, learning group and teachers in quarantine

Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf:

  • Heinz-Berggruen-Gymnasium, 1 pupil infected, extensive smears at the school
  • Evangelisches Gymnasium zum Grauen Kloster, 1 pupil infected, one class cancelled

In general, the processing of suspected cases of corona in schools and daycare centres is handled by the district health authorities. The public health officers also determine which measures are taken. This has been criticised in recent months, partly because the way in which cases of infection are handled is sometimes perceived as very different from district to district.

Parents' and pupils' representatives, the welfare associations, but also the education policy spokeswoman of the Green Party, Marianne Burkert-Eulitz, are therefore calling for a uniform strategy for schools and daycare centres throughout Berlin.

More articles in Berliner Zeitung's English Edition