Berlin - Every weekday at 11am come to the Berliner Zeitung English Edition for the corona/Covid-19 news at a glance.

🚥 The latest corona stats for Berlin (tallied Wednesday, 3 February)

New cases in one day: 644 (363 Tuesday)

Total number of corona deaths: 2,374 (+48 over Tuesday)

🟢 R number: 0.76 (0.82 Tuesday)

🔴 New infections per week: 80.6/100,000 inhabitants (84.9 Tuesday)

🔴 Share of Berlin ICUs occupied by Covid-19 patients: 27.2 per cent (28.4 per cent Tuesday)

Source: Berlin's coronavirus status page 

The lowdown...

New aid package for families, welfare recipients and restaurants

Angela Merkel's CDU/CSU-SPD coalition government has agreed on new spending to soften the financial blow caused by the pandemic. Parents will receive a one-time €150 Kindergeld top-up per child this year, as they did in 2020. People on Hartz-IV or other welfare benefits will also get an additional €150 payment. For restaurants and cafes - only allowed to serve takeout - the reduction of VAT to 7 per cent (down from 19 per cent) will be extended through the end of the year.

FFP2 doubts

While the German government recommends we all wear FFP2 masks in shops and public transport, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in Stockholm has come out saying the pricey masks might not be worth the effort. "The expected added value of the universal use of FFP2 respirators in the community is very low, " the EU agency told dpa newswire. 

Germany approves rapid self-tests for home use

An amendment to the Medical Devices Dispensing Ordinance that came into effect Wednesday has legalised corona self-tests. The problem is that no certified tests are currently available. "So far, there are no layperson-compatible rapid antibody tests on the market," said Ursula Sellerberg of the German Pharmacists' Association (ABDA). Funny, all those rapid tests that were on German Amazon in the autumn have since disappeared.

This just in...

The German Ethics Council - an independent body of 26 experts from different fields that advises the German government - has expressed its opposition to the concept of special privileges for people who have been vaccinated against coronvirus. In a statement Thursday morning, the council said: "Because of the risk that the practical enforceability and acceptability of these [corona] rules would suffer from exemptions for vaccinated persons, they should be repealed for all persons at the same time." And so the dream of gigs for seniors who had the jab goes up in a puff of smoke.

In case you missed it...

A year ago, Berlin's immigration office, the Ausländerbehörde, underwent a makeover. But has anything changed? Elizabeth Rushton reports.

That's all for now, folks. Stay safe!

Yours,

The Berliner Zeitung English team

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