‘No risks’ ahead of Berlin Brandenburg (BER) airport opening in October 2020

Well, it's still on track to happen: the long-delayed opening of the Berlin Brandenburg Airport (BER) will go ahead as planned in October 2020, say bosses.

'No risks' ahead of Berlin Brandenburg (BER) airport opening in October 2020
Inside BER in November 2019, when its opening for October 2020 was announced. Photo: DPA

According to its operator, there are no more obstacles to get in the way of the BER airport finally opening its doors in October this year.

In fact, the planned opening has never been as set as it is at this moment, said airport boss Lütke Daldrup during a special BER committee at Brandenburg state parliament.

“We do not see any risks ahead of the first operations in October 2020,” said Daldrup on Monday.

The kick-off date for Germany's third-largest airport has been delayed since 2011. Six commissioning dates have been missed due to construction defects, technical problems and planning errors.

The notorious delays led Berlin’s then mayor Klaus Wolverweit to step down in 2015.

Daldrup said that all necessary documents had been handed over to the building supervisory authority. 

Among them are the most recent test certificates from the TÜV (Technical Inspection Agency). The experts had tested cables for the security power supply and lighting in the airport.

After the launch of BER, operations will move from the old Tegel and Schönefeld airports to the new site in several stages.

READ ALSO: Berlin's BER Airport to finally open in October 2020

The outside of the new BER airport. Photo: DPA

Trial operations

While meeting the planned date might seem more difficult in the coronavirus crisis, there are actually some advantages, according to Daldrup. The slump in air traffic actually makes it easier to conduct trial operations right now, he said. 

Trial operations will be carried out with reduced personnel at the greatest possible intervals, he said.

“We still have one to two percent of the [normal air] traffic right now,” said Daldrup, referring to the usual business at Berlin’s existing airports Tegel and Schönefeld. A total of about 1000 passengers per day are currently being counted at both locations.

“We must expect passenger numbers to remain very low for several months,” he said.

There is no guarantee that the new Terminal 2 – which was expected to receive the most traffic – will be ready to open in October, though.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a quarter of the construction workers – who come from eastern Europe – are missing due to border restrictions. It is also possible that some shops in the BER main terminal will remain closed at the beginning, said Daldrup.

A further meeting of the airport shareholders is planned for the end of April between the federal government, and the states of Berlin and Brandenburg.


First operations – (die) Inbetriebnahme

Slump in traffic – (der) Verkehrseinbruch

To save (money) – einsparen

The meeting – (die) Sitzung

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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.