Bonn · Although masks are required in Bonn's Stadthaus where the citizens service center is located, many visitors enter without a face mask. Employees only have to wear one if the correct social distance cannot be maintained. It’s up to security staff to check visitors for compliance.
There are signs at every entrance, and there is also a security staff on duty at the citizens service center. But that apparently doesn’t always have the desired effect. "There is such a lax attitude at the service center of the Stadthaus Bonn that I am stunned," says GA reader Lothar Schiefer, who contacted the GA newsroom. The city administration rebukes the observations, saying this is only one “snapshot” of what regularly occurs.
The situation that Schiefer describes happened a few days ago. Although people are only allowed to enter the building when they are wearing a face mask, he says the "reality is far from it". The security staff is "setting a bad example and wearing the mask only over the mouth, not over the nose". When visitors don’t follow the regulations, security staff allow them in anyway.
City calls accusation a single "snapshot”
The city of Bonn denies the accusations. "From the view of the administration, these can only be single exceptions or snapshots", says city spokeswoman Monika Hörig. The security staff in the Stadthaus "wear the face masks properly". "If you are outside the premises, this protective measure is not necessary as you are outside and the required minimum distance can be maintained". But in direct conversation with citizens outdoors, masks are worn.
Hörig also points out the praise that the city receives for its security staff. They "keep a watchful eye and confidently point people in the right direction when an opening becomes available, showing them the way, answering questions in a calm and friendly manner with everyone." The administration is also "very satisfied with the way the security staff perform this difficult task in a responsible manner".
In general, all workplaces in the service center are equipped with plexiglass protection walls. "This means that no masks have to be worn here while a citizen is receiving services, not on the part of the citizen or the employee", says Hörig. For the employees there is a requirement to wear face masks when they are walking in the building complex and cannot keep the minimum distance.
On Thursday, the situation in the service center was relaxed: every second seat remained free, the waiting room was not overcrowded. At the entrance, the security personnel kindly asked if the visitors had an appointment and pointed out that they had to disinfect their hands. However, masks often remained under the nose or chin. And some visitors didn’t seem to follow the rules so strictly, reaching out to share french fries.
City authorities still consider compulsory masks to be sensible
Those who enter the Stadthaus will pass face mask signs and sanitizers, but the rules are not checked for compliance. Most city employees walk through the foyer, the corridors and the elevators without mask - just like the visitors. Only at the information desk are you asked to follow the rules. In the seating groups in front of the Council Hall, staff members sit closely together in groups of two.
Even if many people seem to act recklessly when dealing with the coronavirus, the city administration considers the compulsory wearing of masks to be sensible. "Especially where the minimum distance cannot be maintained," says Lord Mayor Ashok Sridharan. Before discussing the phasing out of compulsory masks, it would be wise to wait and see how things develop in view of those returning to Germany and the start of the new school and kindergarten year. "We must remain cautious in view of the slightly increased number of new infections in Bonn," says Sridharan.
(Orig. text: Nicolas Ottersbach, Translation: Carol Kloeppel)