Neukölln,"domestic risk area"

Right before the autumn school holidays, Schleswig-Holstein and Rheinland-Palatinate have decided to divide Berlin into pieces and label some as danger zones. What?

The Wuhan of Germany?
The Wuhan of Germany?Markus Waechter/Berliner Zeitung

Berlin-I feel a bit like a leper. As a Neuköllner, I've been living in a corona risk area for a few days now – just like the residents of Mitte and Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. A 'domestic risk area', they say. If I wanted to travel to Schleswig-Holstein or Rhineland Palatinate in the near future, I'd have to quarantine for a fortnight. And could end up paying a fine of up to €10,000 if I don't comply with the rules, the Schleswig-Holstein website tells me.

Does it make sense to break Berlin down into its parts, to pick out individual districts? Sure, the stats are clear: On its own, Neukölln is a city of around 330,000 inhabitants. And, unfortunately, travel bans have proven to be an effective means of preventing the spread of coronavirus.

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On the other hand, Berlin is more than just one neighbourhood. It's a city. I recently met friends at a restaurant in Wilmersdorf. Soon I'll be going to the Schaubühne theatre in Charlottenburg, and the other day I went to the cinema in Schöneberg. I don't usually think about it – Berlin's one city for me. But now my district is a kind of German Wuhan. And the autumn school holidays – when families criss-cross Germany to visit relatives – are just around the corner.

I want to visit my mother who lives in Baden-Württemberg. Fortunately they're letting us in. At least for now. Who knows how things will look in a few days. Even if Baden-Württemberg isn't currently classifying Neukölln as a risk area – is it responsible of me to take advantage of Germany's chaotic federal system with all its different regional regulations?

My mother is over 80 years old, which puts her in a risk group. I feel a sense of growing anxiety. It feels like a throw-back to the early days of corona in March – and back then I cancelled my trip home.

Translated from the original German by Maurice Frank.