The latest corona stats for Berlin (tallied Wednesday, 24 March)
Berliners vaccinated with one vaccine dose: 9.9 per cent (9.4 per cent Tuesday)
New cases in one day: +1,268 (+751 Tuesday)
Total number of corona deaths: 3,023 (+12 over Tuesday)
🟢 R number: 0.9 (0.97 Tuesday)
🔴 New infections per week: 118.2/100,000 inhabitants (102.3 Tuesday)
🟡 Share of Berlin ICUs occupied by Covid-19 patients: 16.8 per cent (16.6 per cent Tuesday)
The lowdown ...
Merkel under fire
Following her surprise Easter lockdown U-turn and apology on Wednesday, chancellor Angela Merkel (CDU) headed to the Bundestag to face a roasting from parliamentarians. The opposition criticised Merkel's leadership in the corona crisis, e.g. her failure to include the Bundestag in the decision-making process. Opposition parties, Die Linke, the FDP and the AfD called for a vote of confidence to be held to assure that Merkel's government still had majority support in parliament. Merkel quickly shot down the idea.
Her handling of corona - on top of the CDU/CSU "mask affair", in which three MPs resigned over profiteering from the pandemic - appears to be inflicting serious damage on her party's election prospects on 26 September. A new poll found that CDU/CSU support has fallen to 26 per cent - down from around 37 per cent a month ago. The next most popular party, Die Grünen (Greens) are polling at 22 per cent.
Pace of vaccination remains slow
Meanwhile, Germany's vax programme isn't picking up steam. On Tuesday, 268,000 doses were administered in the whole country, down from 304,000 doses last Friday. A drop in the bucket for a population of 83 million. Last week's interruption in Astrazeneca shots played a factor in the drop, said Thomas Mertens, boss of STIKO, the Robert Koch Institute's immunisation commission. Despite the EMA's assurances about its safety, doubts over Astrazeneca appear to be lingering. Thousands of appointments for the jab remain unused in Berlin. Time to open up shots to a broader segment of the population?
Saarland's cautious reopening plan
Meanwhile, the tiny state of Saarland on the French border is forging ahead with its own re-opening plans. Premier Tobias Hans (CDU) said from 6 April his Bundesland would open up outdoor dining, cinemas and gyms - in line with the Tübingen pilot project (in which people with a negative corona test are issued a day pass giving them access to more activities). At 56, Saarland's 7-day incidence rate is the lowest of any German state. A similar pilot is also being tried in Rostock.
In case you missed it ....
Taxes! Don't panic, you have at least until the end of July to file in Germany. But why not prepare yourself psychologically? Here's some handy info about taxes during corona.
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That's all for now, folks. Stay safe!
The Berliner Zeitung English team