The Berlin Spectator
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Germany: Tightened Corona Restrictions Apply Starting Today

A stricter, amended list of Corona rules is now in place in most of Germany. In Berlin, where even tighter rules apply, the situation at hospitals is worsening. Medical staff is needed, also for vaccination centers.

Berlin, December 1st, 2020 (The Berlin Spectator) — From today, private gatherings in Germany are limited to five persons from two households. Children up to the age of 14 are not being counted. This measure is supposed to do what the restrictions in November failed to do, which is to bring down the high number of Corona infections. Last month, ten persons were allowed to meet in most federal states most of the time.

Many Corona Patients in Berlin

The exponential increase of new Corona cases per day was stopped in November, but the numbers remain high. The government had hoped to achieve more with its measures. In spite of the overall Corona situation, which continues to be problematic, some of the restrictions will be eased for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. In most parts of Germany, ten people may gather from December 23rd to January 1st. (See all Corona rules here.)

In the past days, issues amounted at Berlin’s hospitals. A traffic light system the city state had put in place months ago turned red last weekend, when the share of COVID-19 patients in Berlin’s intensive care units hit 25 percent.

Makeshift Corona Hospital

At this stage, 1,142 persons who are infected with Corona are being treated at the Charité, which is Germany’s largest university clinic, and Berlin’s other hospitals. Three hundred and sixteen are in ICUs right now, 249 of them are connected to respirators. In case the situation deteriorates further, Berlin intends to open its makeshift Corona hospital at the city’s trade fair grounds with 500 beds.

In front of the Berlin House of Representatives’ health committee, Heyo Kroemer, the Charité’s CEO, said the number of Corona patients should not increase, but fall in order to make sure the hospital could handle the situation. At the same time he said there was no reason to spread panic.

Nurses Badly Needed

As it turns out, the main issue Berlin has is not so much a lack of ICU beds, but the medical staff. Many more nurses would be needed if the number of COVID-19 patients at hospitals rose further. At the same time, Berlin is looking for medical personnel for the six vaccination centers it is preparing. The latter are supposed to open in mid-December, if a vaccine is available by then. One thousand care attendants are needed to run them.

On Monday, Berlin started preparing its vaccination centers, according to Senator Kalayci. They are being set up at the two former airports Tegel and Tempelhof, at the Arena venue in the Treptow borough, at an ice rink in Mitte and at the fair grounds. So far, it is unclear when exactly the centers will be ready.