Bonn Discos and nightclubs have been closed for almost a year and a half. Operators like Daniel Jakob of the "N8schicht" are waiting for the indoor areas to reopen. In other federal states, this is already possible again. In NRW, it will probably still take some time.
It's been almost 16 months since they were last open. Since March 12, 2020, no Bonner has seen the inside of a discotheque in the city. Many people are waiting to finally be able to party in a club again.
Even more important is a reopening if only for owners and employees. "It was and is clear to us club operators that clubs were the first to close and will be the last to be allowed to reopen," says Daniel Jakob, managing director of the Bonn disco "N8schicht." "Along the way, however, some regulations are of course difficult to understand," he emphasizes.
For example, he says, it "doesn't seem to make much sense for the individual federal states to set different regulations and times for the reopening of discos, despite comparable incidences and vaccination rates." Particularly annoying for the Bonn club operators: in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate, which is only a few kilometers away, clubs and discotheques are already allowed to reopen. There, up to 350 visitors can party, the prerequisites being, among other things, "good ventilation systems", and in addition, access is only granted to those who have been vaccinated, recovered and tested.
This does not yet apply in NRW. So far, the club next to the townhouse has been used temporarily as a COVID-19 test center. However, as the attendance as well as the payment for the tests has decreased recently, the test center stopped operating on June 30.
So the "N8shift" would be ready to reopen, but it is not in sight in the next few weeks. It is true that according to the current Corona Protection Ordinance of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, clubs and discos in counties with an incidence of less than 35 are allowed to open their outdoor areas. However, many discos, like the "N8schicht," do not have an outdoor area. For them, the ordinance provides for opening no earlier than August 27, subject to an approved concept.
"N8Schicht" general manager Daniel Jakob is skeptical about that date. "I would be satisfied with it, if I may open again in October", he says hopefully. However, he says there are currently more relevant issues than the date: "In my opinion, it would be more important than a concrete opening date to discuss how things should look should everyone have been offered vaccinations at the end of the summer," he thinks. He questions whether strict requirements would still make sense at that point. "If we arrive at a point in time where everyone has been given an offer of vaccination, I see further restrictions as no longer feasible.“
Jakob currently receives many inquiries from people eager to celebrate, such as school groups planning graduation events. "At the moment, however, the current regulations do not yet allow what most people probably imagine a celebration to be," he emphasizes.
He says it's particularly important at the moment that once clubs have reopened, they don't have to close again. "After 1.5 years, some of the solo self-employed will return, but if there is then another de facto occupational ban for some of those affected, it will not be possible to make up for the damage to the cultural workers," Jakob suspects. How many businesses in his sector will not survive the pandemic, he does not want to say at this point, but he assumes that a walk through the city center in the next few months will provide clear information.
Currently, the "N8schicht" is making ends meet financially, also "because the financial aid is now well designed," Jakob finds. "Nevertheless, the whole thing costs us money, of course," he says. At the moment, the closure can still be sustained, "but opening and closing again would not be," he emphasizes. In addition, he is dissatisfied with the design of the November and December aid from the state, he even speaks of "bribery". The aim is to "create goodwill among those who have been hit by renewed closures," says the managing director.
Personally, he feels "like many others" in the pandemic; after all, a permanent closure is psychologically better to cope with than "a back and forth and a daily study of the incidences". The situation is worse, he says, for the solo self-employed in the industry, such as DJs and photographers, or even students and 450-euro workers. "They would actually fall through the cracks in any assistance measure," says Jakob.
(Original text: Marco Rauch, Translation: Mareike Graepel)