The latest corona stats for Berlin (tallied Thursday, 4 March)
Berliners vaccinated with one vaccine dose: 5.5 per cent (5.5 per cent Wednesday)
New cases in in one day: +608 (+447 Wednesday)
Total number of corona deaths: 2,874 (+12 over Wednesday)
🟢 R number: 0.80 (0.85 Wednesday)
🔴 New infections per week: 70.5/100,000 inhabitants (67.8 Wednesday)
🟡 Share of Berlin ICUs occupied by Covid-19 patients: 18.1 per cent (18.1 per cent Wednesday)
The lowdown ...
The upper house of German parliament, the Bundesrat (which you never hear about and represents the German states) is voting on new corona aid for businesses, families and low-income people today. Representatives are expected to sign off on a one-off payment of €150 per person receiving welfare benefits and €150 per kid for parents. The money is expected to flow in May. Among other things, they're expected to extend the current VAT reduction for restaurants through the end of 2022. Also being discussed in this session: transforming the Steuerliche Identifikationsnummer into a "citizens ID number" or Bürger-Identifikationsnummer for "online public services".
Fun fact: everyone in Germany currently has a Steuerliche Identifikationsnummer, a Steuernummer, a Sozialversicherungsnummer, and a Versichertennummer. Or did we miss one?
Germans: rules ok, vaccine programme sucks
A poll conducted for ARD-Deutschlandtrend, found 47 per cent of Germans find the current level of lockdown appropriate. 20 per cent want stricter rules. 30 per cent say the measures are too harsh. Only 10 per cent favour a lifting of all corona rules. Unsurpisingly in a country that has performed worse than its EU neighbours in the vaxx race, 73 per cent are unhappy with the organisation of the inoculation programme in Germany.
Berlin shopkeepers pissed
Under the new rules, shops can open sort of normally from 8 March (except that it's a public holiday to mark International Women's Day in Berlin) - IF the incidence rate falls below 50. Right now that stat lies at 70.5 in the city, meaning retailers can only open in line with the "click and meet" model: customers must reserve a time slot and only one customer is allowed per 40sqm. For some reason, less strict rules apply to florists and DIY stores.
Spokesman for the local retailer association, Niels Busch-Petersen, is not chuffed: "For the majority, it's unrealistic. But many businesspeople will clutch at any straw." He criticised the "handbrake" rule, whereby more or less everything will have to close again once incidence reaches 100. Which appears to be where we're heading.
In case you missed it ....
It's been 10 years since the Fukushima disaster and Angela Merkel's U-turn on nuclear power. Our editor writes it's time for Germany to re-embrace the atom, for the sake of the climate.
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That's all for now, folks. Stay safe!
The Berliner Zeitung English team