In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Berlin State Government began locking down the capital in mid-March to try and contain the spread of Coronavirus. All non-essential businesses and institutes – bars, clubs, museums, concert venues, galleries, schools, universities, sports clubs – are currently closed while only banks, petrol stations, pharmacies, post offices, supermarkets and restaurants remain open on a limited basis. The lockdown is due to end on April 19th, but the Berlin government has stated, pending a review of the situation, that it’s Coronavirus protocols could be extended beyond this date.
Thus, it seems, that we all might have to spend a bit more time indoors and away from the people and places we love. There are, however, still plenty of ways to enjoy Berlin in these trying times. We’ve put together a few (responsible) suggestions to help keep you busy and in touch with the city during the lockdown.
For the Culture Vultures
With public gatherings banned for the time being, Berlin’s cultural institutes have stepped up and are releasing performances and concerts online or via live streams. The Berlin Philharmonic, for example, has created a digital concert hall, where you have access to their archive for free. Similarly, the Staatsoper on Unter den Linden is offering an ‘Opera On-Demand’ online video service – you can check out the program here. If you’re missing Berlin’s club culture, United We Stream has teamed up with Arte Concert to provide a platform for the live streaming of DJ sets, concerts, performances and discussion panels. You can buy merchandise and ‘virtual club tickets’, with all the proceeds going to a relief fund to support clubs and event organizers in need. Berlin.de has a comprehensive calendar of all online and live streaming events in the city. You can check it out here.
For the Foodies
Many of Berlin’s independent restaurants are going to be struggling right now. You can still support them responsibly while you practice social distancing. Here’s a handy online aggregator that lists some of (not all) the restaurants that are open for takeaway, pickup, and delivery: Dining at a Distance. A lot of places have special edition menus at the moment, and are operating with a curbside pickup policy. Barra in Schillerkiez, for example, is making special edition fried chicken sandwiches right now, and they’re unreal. Apocalypse Delivery is an online food shopping and delivery service working with a select group of top-notch, small-scale artisanal producers in Berlin to ship out quarantine care packages across the city. Oh, and there’s always ubiquitous online takeaway baron Lieferando, too.
For the Outdoorsy
Berlin is blessed with plenty of green space, and now that spring has gloriously sprung it’s a great opportunity to get out of the house, do some exploring, and beat back the cabin fever. As per state government guidelines, you can still do sport or light exercise outdoors alone, with members of the same household, or with one other person. The usual suspects (the Tiergarten, Tempelhof, Treptower Park etc.) are all great for walkers, joggers and cyclists. For something a bit different we’d suggest heading out to the Plänterwald to do some foraging. It’s Bärlauch (wild garlic) season, and the small forest on the Spree is carpeted with the stuff. Remember to be considerate, and maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from others.
For the Readers, Watchers, and Gamers
With a lot more time to spend indoors than usual, now’s a good time to get to know Berlin from a different perspective – in either literature, film, or on your games console. We published both a Berlin watch list and a Berlin reading list recently, with plenty of tips to get you started. Netflix just released, and is heavily pushing, a new drama called Unorthodox – which centres around a young woman fleeing her ultra-orthodox Jewish community and an arranged marriage to start a new life in Berlin. Who knows, maybe you’re bored enough by now to watch Berlin, I Love You? We doubt you’ll have to stoop that low, though. For the gamers out there, you can dust off your copy of Call of Duty: World at War (PS3, XBOX 360, Wii), and join the Soviet 150th Rifle Division and expletive-spewing, soldier-clouting Sergeant Reznov to storm the Reichstag building at the end of WWII.
Whatever you’re doing to pass the time, we hope you’re staying safe and sane.