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Today in Germany: A round-up of the latest news on Monday

Find out what's going on in Germany today with The Local's short round-up of the news.

Today in Germany: A round-up of the latest news on Monday
Frankfurt airport. The travel industry has been hard hit in the coronavirus crisis. Photo: DPA

Travel firms in Germany dealing with massive losses

The German travel industry is struggling with billions in losses due to the coronavirus crisis, according to experts.

“Companies in the travel industry are recording revenue losses of more than 80 per cent,” which equals asround €28 billion for 2020, President of the German Travel Association (DRV), Norbert Fiebig, told Handelsblatt on Monday.

A massive 11,000 travel agencies, 2,300 tour operators and thousands of tourism service providers are currently “de facto closed”, said Feibig. With a few exceptions, travel warnings and restrictions have “brought the tourist travel market to a complete standstill”.

Travel agencies and tour operators are “traders without goods”, added Feibig. There are travel restrictions currently in place for most countries around the world.

The DRV called for more support from the German government to secure the 2.9 million jobs in the travel industry.

German vocabulary: loss of sales/loss of revenue – (der) Umsatzausfall

READ ALSO: What are Germany's planned new coronavirus restrictions?

Four injured after huge fire at Berlin underground station

More than 100 firefighters have put out a blaze which broke out at the U-Bahn station Onkel Toms Hütte on Sunday night.

Four people were injured in the fire. One man is seriously injured, said emergency services.

The fire reportedly started in a shop at the underground station in Zehlendorf and spread to the roof. It was brought under control during the night, according to the fire brigade.

The U3 underground line between Breitenbachplatz and Krumme Lanke is not running due to the fire. A replacement bus service has been set up.

German vocabulary: fire brigade – (die) Feuerwehr

Firefighters at the scene after the fire at the U-Bahn station Onkel Toms Hütte in Berlin. Photo: DPA

Improvements to coronavirus app

Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn has presented a concept for improving the so-called 'Corona Warning App'. His idea is for users to be informed several times a day about possible risk encounters. And in the case of a positive coronavirus finding, they will be reminded a number of times to share their test results with other users.

According to the report seen by Spiegel, the Corona-Warn-App has now registered around 22.4 million downloads.

However, many users have so far only been using the app passively. They let themselves be warned of possible risk contacts, but do not enter their own positive test results – and therefore do not warn their contacts. Recently, only about 2,200 users registered their positive result in the app on a weekly average. In view of the current infection figures, this is only a fraction of the newly infected.

Therefore, a “reminder function” is to be integrated into the application in the future, under the plans. “The notification should be displayed two hours after the positive test result is displayed to remind the user that the test result has not yet been released,” the paper says.

A further reminder should be displayed after four hours, according to plans. In addition, the Ministry plans to simplify the user interface to make it easier to register. Reporting your own infection results will remain voluntary.

German vocabulary: reminder function – (die) Erinnerungsfunktion

READ ALSO: 'Only problem is that it's optional': The verdict on the coronavirus tracing app

Weather report

Germany has so far been experiencing a fairly mild November. That continues on Monday November 16th with highs of 15C.

Across the country there are short sunny spells with clouds in between. Towards the North Sea showers are forecast. There are lows of 9C. The German Weather Service also said there was likely to be stormy winds at high altitudes and at the North Sea.

On Tuesday there are heavy clouds and rain forecast for the northern half of the country, moving eastwards during the day. In the south it's forecast to be dry with longer sunny spells. There are again highs of 15C and lows of 9C.

German vocabulary: cloudy – bewölkt

More cases of African swine fever in Germany

Two more cases of African swine fever have been confirmed in the corpses of wild boars in Saxony, reported broadcaster MDR.

The Saxon Ministry of Social Affairs announced on Sunday that the bodies of several dead wild boars had been discovered in the district of Görlitz, close to the Polish border. The Friedrich-Loeffler-Institute  detected the virus in two of the animals that were examined. Further samples were negative.

The first case of the disease in Saxony was detected at the end of October in the district of Görlitz. A restricted zone was immediately set up, and a search for more boars got underway.

A wild boar. Photo: DPA

Swine fever is not dangerous to humans as it is not a zoonosis, a disease which can be transmitted from animals to the human population.

But it is highly infectious and fatal for boars and domesticated pigs. It first arrived in Europe in 2007 and has been spreading slowly through the east of the continent ever since.

If the disease were to spread into the agricultural swine sector it could have a harmful impact on exports, as China, the largest pork market in the world, currently buys large quantities of pork from Germany.

The first case in Germany was discovered in September this year.

German vocabulary: restricted zone/area – (die) Sperrzone

READ ALSO: First case of African swine fever confirmed in Germany

Thank you for reading. If you have any thoughts or questions about life in Germany, you are always welcome to email our editorial team at [email protected].

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Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the ‘die’ and carnival lingo

From the push to reform long-term unemployment benefits to the lingo you need to know as Carnival season kicks off, we look at the highlights of life in Germany.

Living in Germany: Battles over Bürgergeld, rolling the 'die' and carnival lingo

Deadlock looms as debates over Bürgergeld heat up 

Following a vote in the Bundestag on Thursday, the government’s planned reforms to long-term unemployment benefits are one step closer to becoming reality. Replacing the controversial Hartz IV system, Bürgergeld (or Citizens’ Allowance) is intended to be a fair bit easier on claimants.

Not only will the monthly payment be raised from €449 to €502, but jobseekers will also be given a grace period of two years before checks are carried out on the size of their apartment or savings of up to €60,000. The system will also move away from sanctions with a so-called “trust period” of six months, during which benefits won’t be docked at all – except in very extreme circumstances. 

Speaking in parliament, Labour Minister Hubertus Heil (SPD) said the spirit of the new system was “solidarity, trust and encouragement” and praised the fact that Bürgergeld would help people get back into the job market with funding for training and education. But not everyone is happy about the changes. In particular, politicians from the opposition CDU/CSU parties have responded with outrage at the move away from sanctions.

CDU leader Friedrich Merz has even branded the system a step towards “unconditional Basic Income” and argued that nobody will be incentivised to return to work. 

The CDU and CSU are now threatening to block the Bürgergeld legislation when it’s put to a vote in the Bundesrat on Monday. With the conservatives controlling most of the federal states – and thus most of the seats in the upper house – things could get interesting. Be sure to keep an eye out for our coverage in the coming weeks to see how the saga unfolds. 

Tweet of the week

When you first start learning German, picking the right article to use can truly be a roll of the “die” – so we’re entirely on board with this slightly unconventional way to decide whether you’re in a “der”, “die”, or “das” situation. (Warning: this may not improve your German.) 

Where is this?

Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

Residents of Frankfurt am Main and the surrounding area will no doubt recognise this as the charming town of Kronberg, which is nestled at the foot of the Taunus mountains.

This atmospheric scene was snapped on Friday morning, when a drop in temperatures saw Kronberg and surrounding forests shrouded in autumnal fog.

After a decidedly warm start to November, the mercury is expected to drop into single digits over the weekend. 

Did you know?

November 11th marked the start of carnival season in Germany. But did you know that there’s a whole set of lingo to go along with the tradition? And it all depends on where you are. First of all, the celebration isn’t called the same thing everywhere. In the Rhineland, it’s usually called Karneval, while people in Bavaria or Saxony tend to call it Fasching. Those in Hesse and Saarland usually call it Fastnacht. 

And depending on where you are, there are different things to shout. The ‘fools call’ you’ll hear in Cologne is “Alaaf!” If you move away from Cologne, you’ll hear “Helau!” This is the traditional cry in the carnival strongholds of Düsseldorf and Mainz, as well as in some other German cities.

In the Swabian-Alemannic language region in the southwest of the country, people yell “Narri-Narro”, which means “I’m a fool, you’re a fool”. In Saarland at the French border, they shout “Alleh hopp!”, which is said to originate from the French language. 

Lastly, if someone offers you a Fastnachtskrapfe, say yes because it’s a jelly-filled carnival donut. And if you’re offered a Bützchen? It’s your call, but know that it’s a little kiss given to strangers!