Berlin world’s 2nd ‘most liveable city’: magazine

The German capital has been named the world's second most liveable city, being pipped to the title by Copenhagen.

Berlin world's 2nd 'most liveable city': magazine
Badeschiff on the Spree River in Berlin. Photo: DPA

The New York-based magazine Metropolis released its 2016 ranking this week, placing above Finnish capital Helsinki in third.

It praised Berlin for its innovative approach to redesigning old, abandoned buildings to give them a purpose fit for the 21st Century.

“Berlin’s stellar pedigree of arts events such as CTM, transmediale, and the Berlin Biennale is taking on greater significance – and the spaces required to host them are becoming increasingly crucial,” the magazine writes.

“If these new developments can cater to and integrate the wide range of newcomers to the German capital, it will resist the stasis and divisions that plague its European counterparts.”

Metropolis gives particular credit to the Google-funded Factory Berlin, a converted brewery that is home to the offices of tech royalty such as Uber, Twitter and SoundCloud.

A project to redesign the Haus der Statistik, a GDR government building in the city centre, was also noted by the magazine as being a positive step towards preventing the capital’s drift into “normalcy”.

Das Haus der Statistik. Photo: DPA

The proposed project would create a 130,000 metre space for artist studios, and living space for refugees in order to make up for the loss of over 600 artist studios in recent years, the magazine reports.

According to the magazine, Berlin is now in a position to take over London’s position as “the cultural capital of Europe” as the British capital has to deal with the consequences of the UK's vote to leave the EU.

In recent years, trendy international magazines have time and again poured praise on the German capital, ranking it high up among the world’s best cities.

In 2015, Monocle magazine ranked Berlin third behind Tokyo and Vienna for the world’s most liveable cities. Meanwhile a Mercer survey earlier this year put Berlin in the top 25 cities in the world for expats.

Despite the positive publicity and the huge increase in tourism which comes off the back of it, Berlin still continues to struggle with a multitude of social problems.

It has one of the highest unemployment rates in Germany, one of the highest levels of public debt, and the country’s worst-rated education system.

The top ten cities in the new Metropolis magazine list were:

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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.