Berlin district sends a large part of the top administration and many politicians in quarantine

A corona case at the district assembly is slowing down work of the newly elected district office in Marzahn-Hellersdorf the end. Because of a case of a corona infection of a participant in the latest BVV meeting that became known on Thursday, “large parts” of the top management and the political representation of the Berlin district would have to be in quarantine. The district office announced on Thursday that the health department ordered that.

Mayor Gordon Lemm (SPD), his deputy and social councilor Nadja Zivkovic (CDU) and youth and health councilor Nicole Bienge (SPD) as well as “several members of the BVV” are affected.

The number was not quantified more precisely. At first glance, it doesn’t seem to be big: The order initially only applies to all unvaccinated or not fully vaccinated people present – this can be district councilors, administrative employees or spectators.

However, the order also applies to those who have been fully vaccinated or who have recovered from a previous infection, provided that their Corona warning app displays a red warning: an “increased risk”. This is calculated by the app on the basis of proximity to a demonstrably infected person and the duration of contact. The district mayor wrote on Facebook that “a large number of district councilors” had to isolate themselves since Thursday.

Lemm attended the Mayors’ Council on Thursday

The process also shows how vulnerable the political operation itself is in the corona crisis: Before he was quarantined on Thursday, Lemm took part in the mayor’s council for the first time in the morning – the body that serves to exchange information between the districts and the Senate.

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In the Red City Hall, he sat together with the Governing Mayor Michael Müller, State Secretary for Health Martin Matz, the State Secretary for Administrative Modernization, Frank Nägele, and the Deputy District Mayor of Lichtenberg, Kevin Hönicke (all SPD). “1.5 hours of the latest (Corona, of course),” tweeted Lemm from the high and spacious hall – in which those involved sat at a distance, but without masks. He had previously undergone a quick test at home “like every morning”, with negative results, he told the Tagesspiegel in the evening.

It was not until noon that a corona suspicion became known from the red-green-red coalition negotiations in Berlin. A rapid test had a positive result for one employee. The negotiations were then interrupted for half an hour in order to carry out PCR tests on the person concerned and everyone else present. The results were not known by the evening.

The meeting took place a week ago

The meeting of the district assembly in Marzahn-Hellersdorf took place last Thursday, November 18, from 5 p.m. to shortly after 8 p.m. in the Marzahn leisure forum – and there in the women’s sports hall, which the political representation uses for its meetings because it is big enough in order to put the tables of those involved further apart than in the Arndt-Bause-Saal of the same house. According to the protocol, 48 of 55 district councilors were present.

[270.000 Leute, 1 Newsletter: Jeden Dienstag gibt’s den Tagesspiegel-Newsletter für Marzahn-Hellersdorf – mit allen Corona-Infos, kostenlos und kompakt.]

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With Lemm, Zivkovic and Bienge, three out of five members of the top management were sent into domestic isolation. The new school councilor Torsten Kühne (CDU) and building councilor Juliane Witt (left) are not affected, although they were also present. Bienge does not appear in the minutes, but stayed with BVV as a guest, as Lemm explained when asked by the Tagesspiegel. She was only appointed city councilor on Monday.

As the longest-serving member of the district office, Witt now represents the mayor at face-to-face events. Lemm, Zivkovic and Bienge continue their official business from the home office, the message said.

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The quarantine applies until a negative PCR test result is obtained. According to the announcement, the affected members of the district office carried out a corresponding test in the health department on Thursday. The results are expected “in the next few days”.

“Even the non-quarantined members of the district office and the BVV are strongly advised to carry out a PCR test and to pay more attention to symptoms of the disease,” Lemm was quoted as saying in the message. “Even if similar situations cannot be ruled out in the future in view of the further increase in the number of cases, we should all use this situation as an opportunity to consider which sessions must necessarily take place in person and where contacts can be reduced in the professional and private context.” He hoped that “the sick people are doing well and that as few people as possible have become infected”.

As can be seen from the minutes, BVV had already decided “due to the current pandemic situation” to shorten the meeting on Thursday. Numerous items on the agenda were postponed, including inquiries about technical equipment and better support from the health department “in view of the increasing number of corona infections”. An application for the election of the sixth district office member – by the AfD – had previously been withdrawn.

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