One thing is already clear: “This New Year’s Eve will be a completely new experience.” So said Berlin’s Senator for the Interior Andreas Geisel (SPD) on Monday in the interior committee of the House of Representatives. A demonstration of the lateral thinking movement, counter-protests, firecracking zones in Pallasstrasse in Schöneberg’s Steinmetzkiez and on the north of Alexanderplatz, plus the protection of the vaccination centers – the police are facing major challenges, the Senator said.
The number of emergency services will be very limited, however, and support from other federal states can hardly be expected. “I assume that New Year’s Eve has a major location in almost every state,” said Geisel. He spoke of a “difficult personnel situation” at the turn of the year. At least he expects support from the federal police.
The police are now checking to impose a so-called duty-free ban for New Year’s Eve. That said the head of the Deployment Directorate, Stephan Katte. He will plan the New Year’s Eve mission “like an onion peel system” according to priority.
It starts with the registered “lateral thinking” demonstration on Straße des 17. Juni and continues with the protection of the public-free New Year’s Eve concert of the ZDF at the Brandenburg Gate, the two firing ban zones and the vaccination centers.
In addition, there is the usual happening at the turn of the year. The police will be at full capacity, said Katte. According to police chief Barbara Slowik, in addition to 1,700 emergency services from the hundreds of riot police, 900 employees will be on the road in normal radio vehicle service.
The so-called alarm hundreds of the local directorates are also set up. It is clear that the police “cannot be on site in every living room and in every garden” to check compliance with the protection against infection – a maximum of five people.
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The Interior Senator said he was looking at the Corona demonstration with particularly great concern. The police are currently holding cooperation talks with the organizer, who has registered 20,000 participants. “Our primary goal is to enforce infection protection,” said Geisel. The applicant has proven that he is not willing to comply with protection and distance rules.
Limitations of the corona demo are being checked
How the demonstration will be dealt with has not yet been finally decided. With a view to the recent decision of the Federal Constitutional Court, which had confirmed a ban on demonstrations in Bremen, Geisel said: “If we have the possibility of the restriction, we will implement it.”
Left-wing interior expert Niklas Schrader warned that it was not serious to demand a ban now. This must always be justified in detail in each individual case. The decision only relates to a specific individual case. “I warn against thinking that just because it works in Bremen, we can do it in Berlin,” said Schrader. Previously, Green interior expert Benedikt Lux had stated that the decision from Karlsruhe could be a basis for a ban on the corona demo.
The police union (GdP) called for at least the number of participants to be limited. “Anyone with understanding can imagine that we won’t need this construction site on New Year’s Eve,” said GdP country manager Norbert Cioma. Despite all the understanding for the freedom to demonstrate, there is better for Berlin’s police to do than spend hours making it clear to thousands of people that they “have to put on a mask”.
Greens want to limit firecracking time to 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., the left waves it off
For the time being, New Year’s Eve will remain in the prohibited areas in Schöneberg and Alexanderplatz. The reasons are regular gun battles and attacks on emergency services. For a city-wide ban on firecrackers, the nationwide Explosives Act would have to be changed. But the federal states and the federal government had rejected the Berlin initiative, which was introduced primarily at the instigation of the Greens, to ban the sale of pyrotechnics.
When the firecrackers were banned, the fronts within the red-red-green coalition came to light. Green interior expert Benedikt Lux said: “The prime ministers did not hear the shot.” In order to prevent the hospitals from being overloaded by gunfire victims and large crowds, Berlin must limit the time for fireworks and gunfire.
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Instead of the usual from 6 p.m. on New Year’s Eve to New Year’s morning until 7 a.m., this should only be allowed from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. this year. Such a regulation is “naturally difficult to control”, said Lux. But with it “one can achieve normatively” to reduce the risk of injury so that the hospitals “do not fill up”.
The left faction’s health expert, Wolfgang Albers, disagreed. Limiting the firecracker time further leads to the fact that the firecracker becomes “condensed and more dangerous”. This would make more injuries possible.
“Firecracker injuries not the main field of activity” of the clinics on New Year’s Eve
At the same time, Albers contradicted the claim repeated by Lux and the Greens that the hospitals would be flooded by victims of firecrackers. According to all reports from the fire brigade in recent years, New Year’s Eve “firecrackers are not the main field of activity” of the ambulances and hospitals.
Interior Senator Andreas Geisel (SPD) also warned that one should be careful not to announce bans without knowing how to enforce them. It is clear that a “clear edge” must be shown. “But we shouldn’t talk too much,” said Geisel.
Nevertheless, he wants to draw conclusions and to crack down on the use of alarm weapons, with which more crimes and attacks on emergency services are being committed on New Year’s Eve.
The aim of Berlin is to significantly reduce the legal and illegal distribution and use, above all of alarm weapons, but also of irritant gas and signal weapons, at the federal level. In the future, according to Berlin’s will, a “small gun license” should be required for purchase.