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Berlin club Berghain reopens doors with restrictions

Coronavirus is keeping Berlin's buzzing clubs closed but techno attraction Berghain has found a way to throw its doors back open, luring visitors with an unusual sound exhibition.

Berlin club Berghain reopens doors with restrictions
Visitors to Berghain wearing face masks. Photo: AFP

Just 50 people are let in at a time to allow for physical distancing, but without the venue's notoriously picky doormen standing guard, no one has to worry about being denied entry.

Once inside Berghain's imposing Kessel Hall, it's not the sound of techno that fills the space.

Instead, visitors to the former power plant are enveloped by an eery, almost surreal soundscape of rhythmic throbbing, soft city noises, murmurings and even the whirling of helicopter blades.

“You listen, you experience, you can close your eyes or leave them open and follow the sound across the room,” said Carsten Seiffarth, co-curator of the Singuhr projects, a platform that organises sound art installations.

The show, known as “Eleven songs – Hall at Berghain” is the brainchild of artistic duo Sam Auinger and Hannes Strobl and runs until August 2nd.

Fellow curator Markus Steffens said the pair were invited to come up with an acoustic experience “for and with the space” – a concrete, high-ceilinged former machine hall located behind the main club rooms worshipped by techno
lovers worldwide.

“The room itself is a kind of instrument to them,” Steffens said, where the sound interacts with the architecture to create different listening experiences.

READ ALSO: Berlin plans parties in parks and streets to revive techno scene

People queuing at Berghain. Photo: DPA

Queues and face masks

The project was conceived last year, well before Germany went into lockdown to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Although many of the restrictions have been lifted in recent months with shops, restaurants and museums allowed to reopen, nightclubs remain shut over concerns that huge crowds mingling indoors could fuel a surge in infections.

Organisers of Berghain's sound exhibition said they initially feared people wouldn't come.

“We didn't really know what was going to happen. What if no one came because they were afraid of getting infected?” said Seiffarth.

But he needn't have worried. Visitors, wearing face masks, have already been lining up to get in.

With crowd numbers capped at 50, culture fans can spread out comfortably across the vast hall, while the large open windows allow for plenty of fresh air, Seiffarth said.

READ ALSO: Berlin clubs receive an average of €81,000 to ensure corona doesn't kill off techno

Besides, people are ready to get out of the house and do something different after weeks of confinement, he added.

“Here, you can be with other people,” Seiffarth said.

“It's also about having an experience with this room and feeling emotions that go beyond just listening.”

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COVID-19

German health agency expects number of Covid ICU patients to rise

The Covid pandemic is continuing to cause problems around Germany, with concerns that the number of patients needing treatment will rise in the coming weeks.

German health agency expects number of Covid ICU patients to rise

In its weekly Covid report, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) said that confirmed infections appeared to be rising in some German states, and falling in others.

But experts warned that the situation remained tense, with many infections not reported. 

Therefore, in the coming weeks, “hospitalisations, an increase in intensive care treatment and deaths are to be expected, especially among the elderly”, said the RKI.

People over the age of 80 “continue to be most affected by severe courses of the disease”, the experts said in their report. 

The incidence of infections is continuing to rise for this age group, and the number of outbreaks of Covid-19 in medical treatment facilities as well as in old people’s and nursing homes is going up.

READ ALSO: Which Covid rules are likely to return to Germany in autumn?

The number of patients with Covid-19 being treated in intensive care units (ICUs) is also rising slightly. In the previous week, the number was reported to be around 1,330. And on Thursday July 28th, 1,550 people were in ICUs in Germany with 484 receiving ventilation treatment, according to the DIVI intensive care register. 

The number of deaths in connection with the virus is currently around just over 400 per week. The RKI says this trend is a plateau.

When it comes to the overall picture of Covid in Germany, the RKI said there was a “sideways movement rather than a decreasing trend”.

Last week, the nationwide 7-day incidence decreased slightly compared to the previous week. The overall picture shows falling incidences in most western German states and Berlin, with incidences still rising slightly in the other eastern German states and Bavaria.

The RKI estimates there’s been a total of 800,000 to 1.5 million people with Covid (who also have symptoms) in the past week alone in Germany.

Last week experts warned that they expected the Covid situation to get worse in the coming weeks as many schools in Germany return after the summer break.

READ ALSO: Germany’s summer Covid wave set to get worse

The Omicron sub-variant BA.5, which has dominated in Germany since mid-June, has almost completely displaced other variants. It accounts for 89 percent of samples in the past week, the RKI said.

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach warned people against underestimating getting Covid again.

The SPD politician pointed out that it was very easy to become infected with BA.5 – even for those who were infected with a previous type.

He warned that many could become seriously ill or die, plus there’s the risk of picking up Long Covid.

“Therefore, we have to solve the problem not by constant infection, but by better vaccines,” Lauterbach said.

‘Call things as they are’

Lauterbach, meanwhile, defended himself against his choice of words when describing the possibility of a new dangerous Covid variant emerging in autumn. 

In an interview with Bild newspaper in April he said: “It is quite possible that we will get a highly contagious Omicron variant that is as deadly as Delta – that would be an absolute killer variant.”

He was slammed for his dramatic choice of words. 

This week Lauterbach said: “I use few vocabulary that is apocalyptic. But sometimes you have to call things as they are.”

If there were a virus that linked the contagion of the BA.5 variant with the severe course of a Delta variant, “that would be a killer variant”, he maintained.

But he stressed that he had “not said that such a variant is definitely coming, but that we have to be prepared for such a variant”.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister calls on under 60s to get next Covid jab

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