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Revenues cut in half due to corona crisis: Many small entrepreneurs in Bonn continue to work

Revenues cut in half due to corona crisis : Many small entrepreneurs in Bonn continue to work

Many small service providers in Bonn continue to operate despite the restrictions caused by the corona crisis. Most of them have seen their revenue cut in half. Hairdressers and opticians are still very worried about becoming infected with the virus.

All employees are afraid." Robert Fuhs makes no effort to sugarcoat the mood in the face of increasing corona infections. In his salon in Alfter, the head of the Bonn-Rhein-Sieg hairdressers' guild has accordingly taken strict precautions. He no longer puts out newspapers, he doesn’t serve coffee and has every chair disinfected after work is done. Haircuts, perms or highlights are now only available by appointment, so that nobody has to wait - and only for regular customers.

In many of the approximately 1,000 hairdressers in the district, there was a real frenzy last weekend, Fuhs reports. For the time being, the threat of forced closure has not materialized, even though some hairdressers in Bonn and several beauty salons have voluntarily closed for now. Others, especially young workers without a financial cushion, were often not able to afford giving up work. Fuhs says: “Kurzarbeitergeld (government partial compensation for employees) does not cover the rent of the shop and the owner's living expenses". It is different in the event of an ordered quarantine after a case of virus has occurred in the workforce. "In that case the state pays for the loss of income". The hairdressers don’t think this is fair, for them a distance to customers of two meters is wishful thinking.

Other shops that offer services such as hearing-aid stores or opticians are also allowed to stay open. Alexander Drehsen, managing director at Optik Zielinski in downtown Bonn, has told some employees who have children to stay at home and reduced the opening hours. "Sales have fallen by 60 percent", he reports. Some customers took the opportunity to buy sunglasses in peace and quiet in the warm weather. "But that's not really what we're here for now - more for repairs and emergencies". Because physical contact cannot always be avoided when fitting glasses, Drehsen relies on disinfection. Even before the crisis, he had already stored a few liters of the appropriate disinfectant which he purchased at a reasonable price.

On Thursday morning at the Marktplatz in Bonn, David Klobuch offers fresh asparagus and sweet red strawberries. "Normally that would be a sure-fire success - especially in the warm weather with 18 degrees for the first time," says the merchant. But there is little that is normal these days. The many customers who usually combine a visit to the market with a shopping spree are staying away. The number of produce stands has already been significantly reduced. Only occasionally do they see people walking through. "I can't say how long this will be worthwhile," says Klobuch. He has little fear of getting infected behind his produce stands. Customers throw their change into a bowl to avoid direct contact.

"Still, a queasy feeling remains," says the produce seller. Others are also continuing to work as usual at the moment. Sanitary and heating engineer Thomas Schumacher from Küdinghoven is heading out with his six employees to clean clogged pipes. "Even in the event of a gas leak, we can't just leave the customers on their own," says the family entrepreneur. Disposable gloves and soap, as well as disinfectant in every company car are intended to reduce the risk of infection among customers at home. Still, Schumacher is now thinking carefully about where and when he will do business. He emphasizes: "At the moment we won't come for a dripping faucet.”

But Schumacher could do even better business in these weeks than before the virus crisis began. He reports - and this is confirmed by other colleagues such as Marco Büttgenbach in Duisdorf to the GA - of a strangely exceptional economic situation. Many consumers who now work in their home office or look after children wanted to use the time to remodel their kitchen or bathroom. "They now have time to do things that have been postponed". With Schumacher, however, such inquiries are not being met with a positive response. "First and foremost, the safety and health of my employees is now at stake," he emphasizes.

(Orig. text: Martin Wein,Translation: ck)