After a one week Menorca Berlin journey that took us on our boat from Menorca to Costa Brava and by car from Palamos to Berlin stopping in beautiful places in France and Germany we made it to Berlin. We came I would say as Covid refugees, the decision was triggered by Nina, my wife who has PCD and, because she is German, she wanted our kids to have a German schooling experience. I agreed to the move mainly because Madrid has 3000 Covid cases per day and Berlin has 70 with only 226 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. Also and very important for my work, Berlin is an awesome and inspiring place for a tech entrepreneur to be at.
We departed Menorca crying and disturbed at having to leave our farm and an island that we love so much. We came by boat and car so the transition would not be so sudden, a week long therapy, we wanted to emulate the times when people took a long time to travel. But now that we are here the mood has gone from somber to excited.
If you live in the USA, Spain, France, UK you would not believe how non Covid Germany feels like. Being here you see the post pandemic world you pray for in other countries to arrive one day. Today, Saturday, restaurants, parks are full, everyone is socializing, and almost nobody wears masks outdoors, (only when you enter a shop or public transport do people wear one). Also nobody seems to care about surface transmission of Covid. At the park kids were lying everywhere, practically leaking the floor
What is most pleasant to us is seeing friends without worrying about coronavirus. People here see each other all the time, I already have many in person lunch appointments this week, yes in person. We had a great day with a close friend, his son and girlfriend going to restaurants and Berlin’s awesome playgrounds.
What is the secret to German Covid success? It is not that Germans keep their distance, at least that is not the case in crowded Berlin. Yes, they kiss and hug less than in Latin Europe, but to me that is not what is decisive in stopping the pandemic. What I see that stands in contrast with many other countries are two main lines of defence against Sars Cov 2. The first one is at the border: free and quick PCR for everyone who enters the country, results in 24 hours. The second one and is that when they find a positive they have an army of contact tracers ready to test everyone related and stop the spread. They don’t let the exponential growth that took place in so many other countries happen.
If Germany feels “post pandemic” is because many health care workers, ultimately led by a female scientist leader, Angela Merkel, are working hard to protect the population. But they work on the background and society seems free. This situation is the opposite of what is happening with the forced masks on the street policies of Spain, where awareness of Covid is massive, but contact tracing and testing is very poor. Plus visitors don’t get tested at the border.
I end with two pieces of information to illustrate how mild the pandemic is in Germany. one is that of all ICU beds in Germany, only 1% of the ones occupied are occupied by Covid patients, second and more illustrative of the mood, they polled Germans what they feared most, and twice as many Germans feared Trump handling of global affairs than they feared coronavirus.
Follow Martin Varsavsky on Twitter: twitter.com/martinvars