For a good two weeks now, many counties and cities have been enforcing a nighttime curfew when the incidence exceeds 100. After 10 p.m., people are only allowed to leave the house with good reason. This also applies to travelers. Business trips are exempt from the regulation, but not trips for tourist purposes. Nevertheless, three aircraft still landed at BER Airport after 10 p.m. on Thursday evening with passengers from Frankfurt am Main, Munich and Mallorca.
BER is located in the district of Dahme-Spreewald. According to the administration, the incidence there has been below 100 since May 4. If this continues to be the case until May 8, the curfew will no longer apply as of next Monday. Currently, however, it is still in place.
This creates a dilemma for travelers: Depending on the purpose of the trip, passengers may violate the curfew upon arrival. So, for example, those who booked their vacation two months ago and now have late flights can no longer comply with the curfew. The Ministry of Interior therefore recently advised people to rebook tourist trips. Another solution to the problem is offered by the airport company: "In general, an overnight stay in the terminal of Berlin Brandenburg Airport is permitted and possible. Please note that we currently do not offer sleeping cabins for our guests. There are isolated small seating groups on the various levels in the public terminal area." A visit to the airport, however, shows that no one seems to be planning to sleep there. And it doesn't seem necessary either.
The cabs are already waiting at BER
What is already apparent on the outward journey with the "airport express" is also evident at the airport itself: It is empty, first and foremost. There is still not much to be seen of the arriving flights. The neon yellow jackets of the security and airport employees are the most conspicuous feature. Shifts seem to be ending and beginning for the federal police. An employee of an airport store is dutifully sorting goods, while across the street at Terminal 1, a few people are waiting for the arrival of the last flights.
Airport employees stand outside in small groups. They laugh and talk to each other. A few meters away, cabs line up. Their headlights illuminate the outside area, and the drivers sit waiting in their cars. Some get out, smoke a cigarette and look at their smartphones. A few black limousines are lined up in the adjacent parking lot. BVG buses drive up and away again without passengers. Despite the flights still arriving, it is quiet at BER.
Gradually, smaller groups of people leave the airport building in waves and bring the outside area to life. The first group seems to consist mainly of business people with briefcases and small pieces of luggage. Most of them seem to be in a hurry. There is a direct line to the cabs. The first in line leave, the waiting cabs move up. Other passengers are being picked up. The drivers of the limousines get out and meet their passengers.
There is no time for questions. A man, probably in his late 50s, stops briefly to smoke. Asked about the curfew, he says he is not worried about it because he is traveling on business. A tourist, probably also in his 50s, makes a similar comment. According to an airport spokesman, a total of about 250 passengers arrive that evening.
Postpone flights? "Finely balanced system"
There are no plans to postpone flights because of the curfew. The airport spokesman explained that it would not be easy to stop flights. Air traffic is a "finely balanced and coordinated system" with transfers and connecting flights, he said. The various flight connections have been planned for a long time, and flight slots have long since been allocated. If a flight were to be postponed, this could lead to overlaps on flight routes, for example. Especially in international air traffic, flights could therefore not be postponed at short notice.
The next flight seems to be the one from Mallorca. Here, too, many passengers are in a hurry. The waiting cabs become fewer and fewer. People honk and shout. Cars pull into the parking lot, people hug each other, load the car and drive away. Few people are drawn to public transportation. The biggest difference compared to the flight from Frankfurt, apart from the significantly increased number of conversations in Spanish, is the amount of luggage. Instead of briefcases and small rolling suitcases, loaded trolleys now dominate.
Controls? Don't seem that important to the authorities
When, despite the hurry of the arrivals, the opportunity arises to inquire, everyone waves it off. There is no time. The hurry, however, does not necessarily seem to be due to the curfew. None of the travelers seems really worried. This could also be due to the fact that there are apparently no controls.
When asked, the district of Dahme-Spreewald explains that the state and federal police are responsible for enforcing the curfew around the airport. They would detect any violations and report them to the public order office.
The Berlin Federal Police also expresses a similar opinion. The Berlin Federal Police explains that the state authorities are responsible for ensuring that the curfew is observed. However, they provide support in enforcing the curfew. If corresponding findings are made, the responsible authorities will be contacted. To what extent this has happened so far, the Federal Police could not answer. No statistics are kept on this. On Thursday evening, in any case, no vacationer seemed to be prosecuted for his return. However, as the incidences in the region are currently decreasing again, the dilemma could soon be solved all by itself.
Image by Jan Vasek