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Coronavirus: The current situation in Berlin, Germany

Hello, I’m Kume from Global PRODUCE Overseas Marketing.
Currently, COVID-19 is raging around the world.
In Japan, a state of emergency has finally been declared for seven prefectures.

In Germany, border closures have been in place since March 16 for neighboring countries, and Berlin, where I live, has been in a state of “lockdown” since March 22 with restrictions on going out.

In this article, I would like to report on the situation in the city and the government’s response to the current restrictions on going out and contacting people in Germany and the impact this is having.

I hope this will help Japanese people to know more about the situation as it may become closer to Germany in the future.

Overview of COVID-19 restrictions in Germany

– Do not go out of the house if you do not need to.
– No more than two people should be out and about in a public place. (excluding families).
– Avoid contact with anyone other than family members who live with you.
– When passing each other on the road, keep a distance of at least 1.5 meters.
– All food and beverage outlets are closed. (Some takeout and delivery are acceptable.)
– No events or group parties, whether at home or in public.
– Closure of the children’s park.
– Museums, zoos, amusement parks, arenas, cinemas, outlets, beauty salons, prostitution facilities, sports clubs, and similar facilities.
– Violators will be fined. (10~100€ for non-essential outings, 15~500€ for non-compliance with policemen’s instructions, etc.)

– But, essential outings are permitted (up to two people in either case. )
Go to hospital
Commuting (basically remote)
Shopping for the essentials.
Individual walks and exercise.
Picnic (distance 5 meters, short time)

The above is a rough overview.

It’s pretty tough, isn’t it? However, compared to the COVID-19 restrictions in Italy and France, it’s still loose, as walking is allowed.

The world has really changed since the restrictions were put in place.

The city of Berlin, which had been full of people, went quiet, and of course, I couldn’t meet any of the people I had met before. Products from supermarkets and drugstores were gone shortly after the restrictions were announced.

This is a view of the supermarket in the neighborhood just after the restrictions were announced.

Food, sanitizing products, and toilet paper are all gone.

What was interesting was that they also sold out of dairy products such as potatoes, sausages, and cheese. (Very German! 😉
Immediately after the announcement, the aforementioned buyout took place, but there is a lesson from the situation and I would like to say it out loud.

Let’s stop hoarding food!

I’ve posted some photos that may have stirred your anxiety, but Don’t worry.

If you don’t even hoard, there is enough food to go around to people. And even if the hoarding does occur, it’s only temporary, and after a while, the selection will return.

Here’s a look at the supermarket as it is now.

It’s not perfect, but it’s well-stocked.

I am very thankful to all the supermarket clerks and distributors who work there in spite of the difficult times.

Currently, in order to prevent extreme hoarding and crowding, the number of people in the store is limited, carts are handed out to keep a physical distance, and control lines are posted near the cash register at 1.5-meter intervals.
In addition, plastic plates are now installed around the cashier, which has a high contact risk, to prevent splashes.

Plastic plate in front of the cashier and 1.5 m spaced regulation line.

Lines are also drawn outside at 1.5-meter intervals.

The city of Berlin

The city of Berlin is quieter than usual, but everyone is trying to make a living under the rules, even though there are restrictions.

Hotel in front of the station. Although closed, the message “TAKE CARE”.

It is very heartwarming.

Even while waiting for the bus, people are properly spaced at least 1.5 meters apart.

A view of the neighborhood park. Most of them follow the rules of numbers and distances and enjoy a walk in the park or a breather.

They also spend time by the river, at regular intervals. If you look at the other side, you can see better.

The people of Berlin are living in more cramped conditions than they were before the COVID-19 outbreak, but each and every one of them seems to understand the seriousness of the situation and the characteristics of the virus and are working towards convergence. (Some of them don’t follow the rules, though.)

School conditions in Germany

All schools are closed.

It is not yet known how long the school will be closed. However, according to my acquaintance, online platforms are now in place, and online classes and assignments seem to be functioning to allow students to study at home.

My language school and my MBA do well with online classes of 5-15 students.

Subsidy

Applications for grants for sole proprietors and self-employed people in Berlin began on March 26, with 150,000 people flooding in for online applications in the first phase.

From Berlin, up to 5,000€, and from the state, up to 9,000€ for companies and sole proprietors with up to 5 employees, and up to 15,000€ for 10 employees.
The tax rate in Germany is high (19%) and there is also a huge income tax charge, but if it is given back to the taxpayer in case of an emergency, I felt it was a meaningful tax payment. Although I didn’t receive any subsidies this time, I will continue to pay taxes as long as I am allowed to live in Germany while I am grateful for the fact that they treat foreigners and their own citizens equally.

Finally

People in Berlin (people in the city on lockdown?) Here’s a quick look at what I’m doing with the spare time I have outside of work and grocery shopping, and what I’m overcoming.

What’s Trending and Being Done During the Lockdown

Food delivery at Ubereats, etc.
Online shopping
Activities through online tools such as Zoom

School Lessons.
Activity Classroom
Drinking parties and community gatherings.
Concert of Music
Gathering of events, etc.

Watching movies
game
Reading.
Home vegetable garden, ornamental plants

Renovation of closed hotels and restaurants

Study groups, medium/small parties and events, especially using online tools, are thriving among young people.

I’ve come to use it a lot for business, of course, but also for classes and gatherings with friends.
Japan has just declared a state of emergency, and I am sure that things will continue to be confusing and difficult in the future, but I hope that the people of Japan will take a cue from the examples of Germany and other countries.
It’s a tough time, but the first thing to do is to be healthy, and a pinch is a chance! Let’s get through it together with a positive attitude!

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