Shoe-Bahn: Berliners queue for sneaker with sewn-in annual transit ticket

Hundreds of people braved sub-zero temperatures to camp out overnight in Berlin, in hopes of buying on Tuesday a pair of Adidas sneakers that also offers free subway travel.

Shoe-Bahn: Berliners queue for sneaker with sewn-in annual transit ticket
Shoe hopefuls camping out in Berlin on Monday. Photo: DPA

With only 500 pairs of the limited edition Adidas sneaker on offer, snow and chilly weather didn’t stop fans from queuing in front of the stores in the Mitte and Kreuzberg districts early in the morning on Tuesday.

At around 1:00am about 550 people were counted – some of whom had been queuing since Saturday – and jotted down on the waiting list. At 6am another count was carried out and those who had left were removed from the list.

A shot of the exclusive pair of shoes from the shop window. Photo: DPA

Peggy from Berlin’s Hellersdorf district said she had been there since Monday morning. Together with Oliver from Friedrichshain, she secured a place in a bus shelter – wrapped in thick blankets and with deck chairs. Other people had put up tents and camping tables on the sidewalk.

“I came from Leipzig on Saturday and am 73rd in the queue,” said Andreas Leu, who was wrapped up in a big red sleeping bag.

“What's most interesting is the ticket and there are only 500 pairs. I'm keeping it for my collection,” he added.

Julian Kienst, who was standing next to Leu, said: “It helps me save quite a lot of money that I can use for other things, particularly since I don't make that much.”

“The shoes are cool, but I want the BVG ticket first and foremost,” 18-year-old Sara told Tagesspiegel.

Berlin's public transport operator BVG had produced the shoes in partnership with German sportswear giant Adidas for the train network's 90th birthday.

Celebrating the sneakers' popularity in its typical ironic fashion on Twitter, the BVG tweeted: “Letting people wait – it's one of our superpowers.”

The sneaker bearing the design of seat covers on Berlin's U-Bahn trains that has an annual ticket sewn into its flap was priced at only €180. An annual BVG ticket costs upwards of €761. On Ebay, it was offered for €600 before the official start of sales on Tuesday.

The BVG's marketing stunt however came under fire, with Die Welt daily calling the hype over the sneakers “absurd.”

The conservative newspaper noted that few pairs of the shoes would likely end up on commuters' feet as they will be more valuable if kept in mint condition as collectors' items.

Barely minutes after the sneakers went on sale at 10 am (0900 GMT), some were being offered online at up to €1,150 – around six times their original price.

The sneakers are valid until the end of 2018 as a ticket on Berlin U-bahn (subways), trams, buses and ferries – but only if they are worn at the time of travel.

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EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.