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.

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.