The latest corona stats for Berlin (tallied Wednesday, 24 February)
New cases in one day: +483 (268 Tuesday)
Total number of corona deaths: 2,781 (+15 over Tuesday)
🟢 R number: 0.88 (1.04 Tuesday)
🔴 New infections per week: 60.4/100,000 inhabitants (57.9 Tuesday)
🟡 Share of Berlin ICUs occupied by Covid-19 patients: 19.1 per cent (19.4 per cent Tuesday)
Source: Berlin's coronavirus status page
The lowdown ...
First teacher vaccine invites
After Germany's health ministers agreed to bump teachers and other educational staff up the vaccination priority list, the first invites are set to go out to Berlin's school staff soon. 45,000 daycare workers and staff at special schools (Förderschulen) are up first - health minister Dilek Kalayci (SPD) says everyone else will have to wait a little longer. The jabs are not compulsory. The invitations will likely all be for appointments at the Tegel vaccination centre, which offers the AstraZeneca vaccine. Here's hoping teachers are less fussy than the Polizei.
8,200 fines for unmasked public transport users
Covering your mouth and nose on Berlin public transport has been compulsory since last April, with refusal to do so punishable with a €50 fine since last July. But some still aren't getting the message. A BVG spokesman says the company had handed out 8,200 penalties by mid-February, with inspectors now reacting more directly to rulebreakers since the return to full lockdown and the introduction of compulsory medical masks on public transport in late January. The share of passengers who do comply with the rules comes to about 98-99 per cent though, he added.
Is lockdown eroding trust?
Frank Henkel (CDU), a representative for Mitte in Berlin's parliament and the city's former interior minister, thinks so. Henkel took to Facebook to claim that failures to run an efficient vaccination system and to provide adequate support to local businesses on time meant people are "slowly losing not just patience, but also trust in the state." His comments go against warnings by his Berlin party colleagues that an incidence rate target of 50 offers false hope; when it comes to the future of lockdown, he says he wants to see a little less conversation, "a little more imagination, please."
In case you missed it ....
In the words of Angela Merkel, German politicians are once again engaged in Öffnungsdiskussionsorgien (opening discussion orgies), each coming up with their own phased re-opening plans. Read about Berlin's suggestions here.
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That's all for now, folks. Stay safe!
The Berliner Zeitung English team