Lockdown extension and new mask requirement in Berlin
The lockdown to contain the Corona pandemic will last longer than previously planned. The Berlin Senate decided on Wednesday to extend the lockdown until mid-February, as announced by Governing Mayor Michael Müller (SPD). Berlin is thus implementing an agreement reached the day before between the federal and state governments.
A sign indicating that masks are compulsory stands on the almost deserted square in front of the Brandenburg Gate.
Measures against the corona virus
The hard lockdown with many closed shops, schools and emergency operations in day-care centres has been in effect nationwide since 16 December and was previously limited until the end of January. Restaurants and cultural and leisure facilities have been closed since the beginning of November 2020.
What is new is a stricter mask requirement
From Sunday (24 January 2021), it will be compulsory to wear a better-protective "medical mask" on buses and trains and when shopping, but also at the doctor's or in church - on pain of a fine. These can be FFP2, KN95 or surgical masks. The widespread everyday masks made of fabric or other coverings of the mouth and nose will then no longer be permitted. The upper limit for commercial events will be reduced to 15 persons indoors (previously 50) and 30 persons outdoors (previously 100).
New rules for Berlin Kitas
The Senate also agreed on new rules for day-care centres, which were recently well-filled in the lockdown - although they are actually only supposed to offer emergency care in individual cases. Now only those families are to be allowed to send their children to daycare centres in which at least one parent works in a so-called system-relevant occupation. In addition, children of single parents or from families in a socially difficult situation will be allowed to attend. Up to now, the providers have discussed this with the parents on an individual basis.
Schools remain closed until after the winter holidays
Schools in Berlin remain closed with the exception of graduating classes. A return to classroom instruction is not realistic until the end of the winter holidays, Müller said. He assumes that "from 8 February at the earliest, it will be possible to discuss whether and how we will move into a gradual attendance mode.
New corona threat due to mutations of the virus
With the new measures, policymakers hope to reduce the so-called incidence - the number of new infections per 100,000 inhabitants within one week - to below 50. For a long time, the values have been higher practically everywhere in Germany, in some cases many times over. In Berlin, the incidence value on Wednesday was 136.6. The trend has recently been downward, which experts interpret as an encouraging development. However, possible new dangers from a virus mutation that is said to be significantly more contagious are causing concern among scientists and political decision-makers.
Homeoffice initiative not expected until next week
The measures that have been taken for weeks are drastic, stressful and tiring, Müller admitted. But all this is not in vain: with every single day that the number of infections is reduced, lives are saved. In order to further reduce contacts, the Senate wants employers to allow more working from home. First, however, they want to wait and see what the regulation announced by Federal Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) with binding specifications will look like, Müller said. In the coming week, the Senate could then adopt this or, if necessary, set "its own accents".
Last edited: Thursday, 21. January 2021 08:25 Uhr