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Christmas shopping under hygiene regulations: Bonn supermarket introduces Corona traffic lights

Christmas shopping under hygiene regulations : Bonn supermarket introduces Corona traffic lights

The shorter the time until Christmas, the longer the lines at the supermarket checkout. This is a difficult situation, especially in Corona times. Branches in Bonn and the region therefore rely on various hygiene measures - such as a traffic light system.

The shorter the time until Christmas, the longer the queues at the cash desks in the retail trade. This is nothing new, but this year the Corona conditions are making the situation worse. In many shops, the admission restrictions are leading to additional waiting times.

Only one customer per ten square metres in shops with 800 square metres of sales space, one person per 20 square metres in larger buildings - these are currently the regulations that apply throughout Germany until 20 December for the time being. A walk through the city at noon on Tuesday shows the effects are currently as varied as the way they are dealt with. While a notice with the current rules is almost obligatory at the entrances to the shops of Bonn's retail trade, the situation in some shops seems to have awakened an almost inventive spirit.

For example, Edeka Mohr, with branches in the Bonn area and on Lievelingsweg and Bornheimer Strasse. There the circumstances allow a maximum of 160 customers based on the shop area. The company is in the process of introducing a traffic light system, which is to go into operation in Bonn this Wednesday. The Corona protection traffic light uses sensors at the entrance and at the cash desk to measure how many customers enter and leave the shop.

"The traffic light is a safe technical system which eliminates any room for discussion," company spokeswoman Julia Kutschke told the General-Anzeiger. On the one hand, it ensures transparency, and on the other hand, the company generally wants to sensitise customers to ensure that measures are observed. Thus, there is always a transparent overview. To this end, there are markings on the floor, regular announcements and employees who, if necessary, would address customers.

The traffic lights should also help to prevent queues from forming where the risk of infection is as low as possible. Namely outside. "Of course there will be bottlenecks from time to time. Especially with fruit and vegetables or at the fresh produce counter," says Kutschke. However, he says, the customers' wits should be appealed to there to keep their distance. Everyone has to wear a mask anyway. But despite all these precautions, "Everyone who buys from us must act on their own responsibility," says Kutschke.

There are very labour-intensive days ahead. Reports from various supermarkets in Bonn over the weekend show that personal responsibility is something of a thing, with the aisles crowded with people. In the somewhat more remote markets, on the other hand, the number of customers during the day can often be counted on two hands.

On the one hand, doormen in front of the entrances have become a familiar sight, for example in front of the TK Maxx clothing shop next to the main post office, where only a handful of customers are admitted as soon as others leave the shop. The situation is similar in small supermarkets such as the new Lidl branch at the railway station, where the bouncers respond to calls and limit the number of shopping baskets and trolleys issued, depending on the company.

Elsewhere, Lidl also uses a traffic light system. According to head office, they feel "very well prepared in terms of protection and hygiene measures for customers and employees".

The supermarket chain Kaufland uses a different system to regulate the number of customers in the shop. As a company spokeswoman stated in response to a GA request, the shopping trolleys are limited to a certain number. But only if it is necessary: "Due to our large sales areas and wide aisles, we can usually keep the required number of customers and the minimum distances," the communication says. The company could not make any location-specific statements for Bonn and the region. The same applies to the Aldi Süd chain.

"I would like to have such problems", says the owner of a boutique near the market place, who does not want to be named. She feels confirmed in her fears and current news that the restrictions on the retail trade are primarily benefiting online trading. "With queues and chaperones, people are deprived of the pleasure of shopping in the city," she is convinced.

Meanwhile, a stone's throw away, in the largest department stores' in the city centre, there are apparently no problems meeting the current requirements: "Due to the large areas in the department stores', we can easily maintain the required minimum distance," says the boss of the Kaufhof department stores' in Bonn, Harry Benzrath. "We record the number of our customers in real time with an IT-supported system, so we know exactly how many customers are currently in our shop and can limit the number if necessary," he explains. The department store's wide range of products in particular helps to avoid switching between different shops and thus too many contacts. Last but not least, according to Benzrath, the Kaufhof shopping experience is 75 percent self-service: "So everyone can decide whether they want to be served".

Back to food retailing: This year, a special calendar feature is exacerbating the bottleneck. This time Christmas Eve falls on a Thursday. Until the following Monday, three full days, the shops remain closed. The Christmas holidays are thus spread over two days on which supermarkets are usually open. Then Sunday follows. Shortly before Christmas Eve, and in the last hours before the presents are handed out, it is likely to be quite crowded - not only in the shopping trolley, but also in the queue at the checkout. The fact that restaurants are also currently closed until 20 December should lead to additional quantities in the baskets.

Customers should spread Christmas shopping out

Edeka Mohr also wants to adjust its opening hours so that customers can spread their shopping over the entire day. In addition, customers are asked to shop on their own and not with the whole family. However, it is also clear that single parents are an exception. "From our point of view, the important thing now is to have done everything possible to create as much time as possible for shopping," explains company spokeswoman Kutschke.

The spokespersons of the other supermarket chains and Jannis Vassiliou of the Bonn/Rhein-Sieg Retail Association also appeal to customers to complete their Christmas shopping early, during the week and during the entire opening hours, especially this year. Rewe expressly points out that it is preferable to buy longer-lasting products for Christmas and New Year's Eve.

Those who want to save themselves the trouble of going shopping despite all the hygiene measures and efforts of the supermarkets can use delivery services as an alternative. These are available from some supermarkets themselves or via specialised websites. Customers simply enter their shopping list online and the food is delivered to their home. Another option is the pick-up service of some supermarkets, where the food is collected and packed for you.

(Original text: Britta Röös and Rüdiger Franz;Translation: Mareike Graepel)