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Corona measures eased: City centres in Bonn and the region are filling up again

Corona measures eased : City centres in Bonn and the region are filling up again

After weeks of corona lockdown, many retailers in Bonn and the region reopened on Monday. While many customers are happy about the shopping spree, others are rather sceptical about the relaxation.

After weeks of lockdown, the current opening of many retail outlets has brought a bit of normality back to the inner cities. Many customers and retailers from the region are happy about the store openings and newly won freedom, while others are rather sceptical about the Corona lockdown.

Visitors to Bonn's inner city largely without protective masks

Since most of the retail shops in the pedestrian zones of Bonn, Beuel or Bad Godesberg have shop areas of less than 800 square metres, they were once again able to welcome customers. Car dealerships, bicycle shops, furniture stores and baby specialty stores were also allowed to open their doors again.

While most of the shop owners were delighted to see an end to short-time work and loss of sales, the mood on the customer side was rather subdued. They were particularly grateful for the change: "At home, we were starting to feel shut in," said Berthold Hartmann from Bonn, who was looking forward to buying a few summery polo shirts in the sunny weather.

However, concerns were also expressed several times that the relaxation of the protective measures might be too early. Despite this, the majority of visitors to the city centre did not use protective masks, while much was done in most shops to avoid the possible risk of infection by the Covid-19 virus by observing distance rules, using Plexiglas dividers and installing hand disinfection.

Pedestrian zone in Bad Honnef is well frequented

The pedestrian zone in Bad Honnef is already well frequented in the morning. Some inspect the displays in the shop windows, others browse the stands with special offers in front of the shops. Many have more than one shopping bag in their hands, the ice-cream parlour is very busy. It seems as if people gratefully accept the Corona restrictions.

"We were really busy this morning." Najat Capellmann from the fashion boutique "Soho" is in a good mood - as are her clientele. "Many were happy to come out in the nice weather," she says. Summer dresses and T-shirts were particularly popular with the female customers on day one after the lockdown. Capellmann, however, only provides fashion advice at a safe distance. And offers customers the opportunity to disinfect their hands and put on a mouth-and-nose protector at the entrance - around 300 masks are ready to be taken away at the entrance.

"Please enter individually" is the motto opposite in Karin Vorrath's flower studio. It seems to be a little quieter this Monday than in the past few weeks, she says. Presumably because her shop was one of the few in the pedestrian zone that was also open during the past weeks. "In this respect, we are already well-rehearsed here in dealing with customers," she says. Face masks for all employees, disinfectants for all surfaces: "It's exhausting to always pay attention to everything," she says, "but the safety of everyone comes first.

Mixed feelings in business in the Rhein-Sieg district

  • Sankt Augustin: The atmosphere is pleasant on Monday afternoon in the Huma shopping centre in Sankt Augustin: people move around calmly, paying attention to distances. Some wear face masks, others gloves. Signs everywhere remind people to keep the required distances, stewards are posted at strategic points. Not all shops are open yet, but work is also going on behind closed doors to ensure that all the requirements are met. The Orsay store is already open, but it is very quiet here until 2 pm. Then team leader Eileen Szurowski has to close the store, because suddenly eight people are crowding the 180 square meters, more is not possible. "At the entrance we point out the disinfectant to the customers again, this is often forgotten or overlooked," she says. Otherwise the behaviour is exemplary. Andrea Krämer from Lohmar heads for the cash desk with her purchases with great enthusiasm. "I have my lunch break and felt the urge to do something for my soul again," says the customer, "It's simply wonderful to buy something to wear instead of food," she adds.
  • Siegburg: The owners have also prepared their shops in downtown Siegburg for the reopening. Many people are out and about on the market square, enjoying the sunshine and some also taking a shopping trip. These include Julia Schlegel from Siegburg and Karin Schaefer from Niederkassel, who spontaneously moved into the shoe shop. Schlegel says that they had not been so restricted by store closures before. But it is nice to see people again. At the same time, she is also sceptical about the loosening up. "You have to see how it develops." In the shops, the first impression is different. "There was already a lot going on", says Hilla Schubert, manager of the Tamaris shop, in the early afternoon. "All customers are happy that it is open again." There have already been two or three situations where customers have had to wait outside. The atmosphere was generally very good, everyone was considerate. On the other hand, another businesswoman, who does not wish to be mentioned by name, reported a rather slow start. "Everything is still very hesitant," she says. She herself also opened in the morning with mixed feelings. "One doesn't know what to expect."

"Madness" in the Rheinbach Centre

Already in the morning it was noticeable that something has changed compared to the previous weeks: Where motorists in the centre of Rheinbach still had a free choice of parking spaces during the day after the lockdown, the bays were again well occupied. Many people were on foot in the city centre. Not only to enjoy some "freedom" again, but above all to shop in the retail stores in the city centre, as could be seen from the numerous shopping bags with clothes or shoes. People who wore a mouth and nose protector were the exception, however.

"It was already a madhouse," said retailer Ruth Gelbe. In her fashion store, employees wore masks, a spitting protection was set up at the checkout, there was disinfectant for hands and surfaces, and disposable wipes were available so that customers could enter their PIN numbers hygienically and cleanly when making cashless payments. She also hopes that customers will take appropriate protective and preventive measures. "We want customers to respect us and our health," said the businesswoman. But very few customers protected themselves and others. "People think: Oh, now business is up again, and now everything is the same as before,“ Gelbe notes critically. But this is certainly not the case.

Some queues in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler

After a few weeks without an open retail outlet, "normal life" also returned in the district of Ahrweiler in the first small steps on Monday. Already in the run-up there was great joy, but also scepticism that there would not be too much of an influx. In Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler and on the Rhine, the retailers' forecast was confirmed. Only sporadic queues formed in front of the shops because the number of permitted customers had been reached. In Bad Neuenahr this was the case with the Zeeman textile discounter. However, it also celebrated its reopening after rebuilding its branch in the Hauptstraße and had corresponding offers ready. Colourful balloons at the entrance pointed to the reopening. The shop was run according to the Corona rules, distance was kept and many visitors protected themselves with everyday masks. Otherwise it was quiet in Bad Neuenahr, the pedestrian zone seemed to be manageable, parking spaces were abundant.

In Ahrweiler the pedestrian zone was already much fuller than in the days of the closed shops. On Sunday there were far more people on the way to look at the shop windows than in the weeks before. In general, the Corona crisis does not seem to be driving any shops in the district town to bankruptcy. "We are not aware of any business closures or bankruptcies in the Corona crisis so far, nothing has been reported", says city spokesman Karl Walkenbach.

(Original text: Stefan Hermes, Heike Hamann, Victor Francke, Hannah Schmitt, Martina Welt and Gerda Saxler-Schmidt; Translation: Mareike Graepel)