In Germany, hairdressers and barbershops will reopen today. Since November of 2020, it is the first time any businesses that were affected by the lockdown may resume their work. Will more restrictions be eased this week?
Berlin, March 1st, 2021. Update: 10:19 a.m. (The Berlin Spectator) — On Monday, Germany’s 80,000 hairdressers and barbershops were back in business. They were the first businesses to get a permission to reopen since the second Corona lockdown was put in place in November. Since then, the measures became tighter and tighter over time because the infection numbers kept on rising.
No Longer Feasible
On December 16th of last year, barbershops and many other businesses had to close. It was simply too dangerous to let people meet, especially in “proximal” businesses in which the customer and the service provider are close to each other. In Berlin alone, 3,000 hairdressers and barbershops were affected.
The fact that they may reopen today, after 74 days, has to do with dignity, as Bavaria’s First Minister pointed out when the decision was taken to reopen these businesses. To many citizens, including elderly ones, having their hair done is very important. Of course, this is also about personal hygiene. It was not longer feasible to keep hairdresser closed.
“I’m not sure how the government will ease further restrictions, given that cases are going up and the vaccine roll out has been woeful, to say the least”, Ben Madle, an expat hairdresser in Berlin, told The Berlin Spectator. “I’m glad to be back to work today. However, I fear we will close again within months.”
Strict Rules Apply
Of course the reopening comes with strict rules. Those businesses will have to assign 10 square meters (108 square feet) to each customer. Everyone has to keep a distance of 2 meters to other persons, except for the person who works on the customer’s hair. A strict mandatory mask rule applies as well. The latter is necessary. At the same time, it can lead to technical issues in the process of styling or cutting people’s hair.
There is another problem, one of a different kind: Now that hairdressers and barbershops are allowed to open, all other businesses, similar ones and very different ones, want the same right. It remains to be seen what Chancellor Angela Merkel and the First Ministers come up with on Wednesday. That is when the next Corona conference will take place.
Quo vadis, Germany? Will Germany do what a majority of Berlin politicians seem to support, which is easing the restrictions, step by step. Or will it look at the infection numbers, which are rising again, and postpone a reopening of businesses, theaters, churches and other facilities yet again?
Even the most careful leaders believe the lockdown cannot go on much longer. They include Berlin’s Governing Mayor Michael Müller who also heads the Conference of First Ministers. “We can not live in a lockdown permanently”, he said the other day. A majority of all Germans still support the Corona policies of the federal government and their federal states, but the number of those who do is decreasing. After months of lockdowns in different intensities this is not really a surprise.
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