Berliners adapt to new normal as capital reopens

By Javier Alonso

Berlin, May 12 (efe-epa).- A hairdresser cleans and disinfects his salon in Berlin after his last client leaves.

On the other side of the city, a restaurateur is working out how many tables he can put on his terrace when he reopens on Friday.

Ben Madle, originally from the United Kingdom, returned to work last week in his hairdressing studio in Berlin’s Neukölln neighbourhood.

Vincenzo Calisto has urgent decisions to make before his Italian restaurant can receive customers again.

They are two examples of how Berliners are adapting to the new reality which has been imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

Ben has lived in Berlin for five years and runs a one-man hair salon in the back room of a bar.

“I started work on Monday this week and it was fine actually, it’s worked out really well. I was a bit hesitant on how it’s going to work and is this going to be viable on Monday and over the weekend. Monday came and everything went really smoothly,” the 33-year-old says.

“I think this new normal they speak of is going to be in place for a couple of years, this is not something that is going to go away overnight it’s a big, big issue.

“I think people are going to adapt to it well, I’m adapting to it OK. As long as you’re able to operate within sensible realms it’s ok, but some businesses are going to struggle with this. I’m quite lucky, I’m just a one-man band,” he admits.

Vincenzo, an Italian who moved to Berlin in 2004, says he has to think about how to distribute the tables to comply with social distancing rules.

Of the approximately 55 customers he could host at his restaurant Calibocca he now thinks he could keep around half.

He is confident that his business, in the Charlottenburg neighbourhood west of the German capital, will recover early next year if visitors return to the city.

He praises German authorities for launching and distributing support so that small businesses like his could survive lockdown.

“I am very confident in Germany because I see that people comply with the rules, which is what I like,” he adds.

Not far from Vincenzo’s restaurant, Paloma González organises her 12 employees at a TEDi home products shop, which along with other premises under a certain size was allowed to reopen on 22 April.

She says the shop assistants have found wearing masks while working difficult.

“They had to sit down because they felt terrible, when you wear them for three or four hours, it causes anxiety,” she tells Efe.

They have redesigned their aisle system, distribution of baskets and imposed a maximum number of people who can be in the shop at any one time.

“It has reduced customers’ stress and gives them a sense of security,” says the 28-year-old Spaniard, who arrived in Berlin in 2016.

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