Calm In German Shops, Avalanche In Danish Hairdressers: The First Signs Of Opening Are Released In Europe

While a good part of European countries are debating and outlining their plan for the de-escalation phase in the coronavirus epidemic, some have begun to implement the first measures aimed at slightly easing restrictions and moving towards the new normal. From this Monday, and after almost a month closed, the smallest stores in Germany are allowed to open their blinds again. The same occurs in Denmark, where some businesses such as hairdressers have been able to resume their activity. At the same time, in Norway, the little ones have been able to return to kindergarten.

Christel Lerche at the Hot N Tot hair salon reopens and welcomes first customers, in Bagswaard, Denmark, on April 20, 2020.

EFE / EPA / Liselotte Sabroe DENMARK OUT


The beginning of the “lack of confinement”, the authorities insist, is being slow and gradual. In Germany, this April 20, only commercial establishments of less than 800 square meters, as well as car dealers and bicycle shops, regardless of size, have been able to reopen their doors. Bookstores have also been allowed to reopen, a move Italy already took a week ago. Gyms, restaurants, bars and department stores are currently closed. Schools will resume classes from May 4.

The reopening was agreed last week between the federal government and state governments. The premise remains to maintain a minimum personal distance of 1.5 meters, as well as not to walk down the street with more than one person or only with those who live under the same roof. In addition, authorities recommend that people wear face masks when shopping or on public transport, although some states such as Saxony, Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Bavaria have made it mandatory. In fact, one of the images of the day has been that of thousands of inhabitants of Dresden, the capital of Saxony, queuing for a free mask.

According to the German media, retail associations did not expect a large influx either on Monday or in the coming days due to the impact of the crisis on consumers. In one of the country’s main cities, Cologne, according to the DPA agency, many vendors with masks have been alone in small stores during the first hours of the day and the stores have filled up around noon.

In Lower Saxony, according to the public chain NDR, customer flow has been controllable almost everywhere and queues have formed only in isolated cases. Many establishments have organized employees to control entry and apply hygiene measures, such as hand disinfection. In Oldenburg merchants were talking about a “completely normal Monday” and some stores have installed plexiglass panels on the box. “We missed you!” Could be read in some shops in Hannover.

However, not all territories are applying this gradual lifting of restrictions in the same way. The federal states have powers when it comes to establishing what the reopening of businesses is like. For example, North Rhine-Westphalia, in the west of the country, has gone further and made an exception for furniture stores. In Berlin and Brandenburg, the federal state surrounding the capital, shops will have to wait until Wednesday to open, according to EFE. Bavaria will wait until early next week.

The reopening rules have sparked criticism among merchant associations, questioning the guidelines and considering that the criterion “should not be square meters, but the principles of hygiene and distance.” On the other hand, there are those who have expressed caution and reservations about the fact that relaxing the restrictions puts at risk the progress made against the coronavirus in the country, including Chancellor Angela Merkel herself. “I would like nothing so much as to say that we can return to absolute normality. But I have to warn that before this opening we cannot feel absolutely safe,” said the president at a press conference, who expressed her desire to continue with the strategy and that there is no upsurge that forces more drastic measures to be taken, for which reason he has asked the population to be “disciplined”.

Last week, the Minister of Health, Jens Spahn, indicated that the coronavirus outbreak already seemed “controllable”, since the contagion rate had dropped to 0.7, that is, that each new infected person infects less than one person. . Germany is one of the countries that has detected the most cases of COVID-19, in its territory, about 146,000 -although the volume of reported infections has to do with the number of tests carried out-. However, the number of deaths of patients with coronavirus that it has recorded is much lower than in other countries in the environment, around 4,670, according to the count by John Hopkins University.

In the neighboring Czech Republic, authorities have also opted to gradually relax restrictions. Its deconfusion calendar, which consists of five phases, ends on June 8. Street markets, craft stores and dealerships have reopened this Monday. For April 27 the opening is expected to open all small shops with an area of ​​up to 200 square meters. On May 11 they will be able to open all stores up to 1,000 square meters, outside large shopping centers.

Denmark already made headlines last week, when students returned to classrooms at schools and nurseries. The cafes and restaurants must continue with the blinds drawn, but as of this Monday, small establishments such as hairdressers, tattoo studios and driving schools, as well as physiotherapy, opticians and dentists clinics, have opened their doors, following an agreement between the government and all parties with parliamentary representation. Currently, Denmark registers around 7,700 cases of COVID-19 and 364 deaths.

And how was the first time that the Danish population can cut their hair in a month? Media such as the BBC and Reuters report that precautionary measures vary, and that not all hairdressers or their clients wear masks. However, there are those who cover clients with disposable plastic gowns, clean their scissors and combs, and the surfaces of chairs between sessions. What there has been is an avalanche of clients eager to make an appointment to fix their hair, also to repair the occasional homemade mess. “We are very busy. We have reservations for the next two weeks,” has told the British chain Phil Olander, owner of a barber shop in central Copenhagen, who also explains that his system crashed with so many visits.

Norway is another of the countries that have started to slightly lift the restrictions. The nurseries have gradually reopened this Monday. A month later, AFP collects – present in a center in Oslo -, most of the little ones were eager to meet their friends, although others were a little suspicious of leaving their parents.

The Norwegian authorities have imposed a series of rules, such as that children spend as much time as possible in open spaces and do not bring toys from home, in addition to extreme hygiene, reports EFE. Also, that they be divided into small groups. According to AFP, the protocol is that children under the age of three must be in groups of three under the supervision of an adult. Those between the ages of three and six can stay in groups of six.

The decision has not convinced everyone, as it also happened in Germany: some parents have expressed their opposition in groups on social networks, the most numerous baptized “My son is not going to be a guinea pig of COVID-19”, with almost 30,000 members.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg has said that “it is important to open up for the little ones, because we know that they are the least sick.” “In schools, more adjustments will have to be made. It is also important for children’s development to be with others and receive pedagogical content,” he assured.

Noting the low rate of transmission of the disease, Norwegian authorities assured in early April that the coronavirus outbreak was considered “under control” and that the country was to embark on a slow and gradual return to normality. According to John Hopkins, the confirmed cases in Norway are around 7,100 cases and 181 deaths have been counted.

Christel Lerche at the Hot N Tot hair salon reopens and welcomes first customers, in Bagswaard, Denmark, on April 20, 2020.

Christel Lerche at the Hot N Tot hair salon reopens and welcomes first customers, in Bagswaard, Denmark, on April 20, 2020.

EFE / EPA / Liselotte Sabroe DENMARK OUT



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