Shopping amidst a crisis Customers of Bonn supermarkets keep their distance

Bonn · By now, many supermarkets rely on their own staff to control the number of customers in their stores. Security services are still in demand, however.

 In the Edeka shop on Bornheimer Strasse, employees take care of the entrance controls.

In the Edeka shop on Bornheimer Strasse, employees take care of the entrance controls.

Foto: Benjamin Westhoff

What Christopher Mohr observed during the pandemic can be summed up in a simple formula, Mohr's law, so to speak: "Customers buy more and come less often. He and his sister Kirsten run three supermarkets in Bonn and one in Alfter. Has the shopping behaviour of his customers changed since the introduction of compulsory masks? "No", says Christopher Mohr. "However, since the beginning of the pandemic, the usual rush hour in the evening and on Saturdays is no longer so pronounced.“

The Corona Regulation of the country still applies to the trade. Among other things, it stipulates that one customer per ten square meters of space is allowed in the store. The version in force since Monday also stipulates that employees and customers must wear a mask. "We could let 240 people in," says Christopher Mohr. Most of the time, however, only about 90 people are in his store anyway. Employees in other stores confirm that since the introduction of compulsory masks there is no more going on than before.

At the beginning of the pandemic, the Mohrs still had security staff at the entrance to their Edeka on Bornheimer Strasse to make sure that not too many people were inside at the same time. This is now taken care of by three of his employees.

Mohr sits in an office in the market and explains the various reasons for this decision: The company has enough staff of its own, and he has to brief the security staff every time. In addition: "It doesn't always work with the customer approach," he says. Now his employees take care not to let anyone else in if they feel that it is getting too cramped in some areas of the store.

Oliver Misch, operations manager at the Paffen security service, also says that security staff are no longer in such great demand at present. "There is a downward trend noticeable", he says. Nevertheless, he says that 20 of his employees are working in various markets - from Aldi to Hit. They check whether customers are wearing face masks, disinfect cars or check distances in the queue. At the beginning of the Corona crisis, demand was particularly high. At the moment, the stores decide from week to week whether they need his people. Many of them are now using their own personnel. "That's fine legally," says Misch. No special qualifications are required for this, he says. Many market owners saved themselves costs because of this. "They put the trainee there."

Misch thinks that the general mood in the shops has improved considerably. At the beginning, for example, many people would have been upset that they had to use a shopping trolley. "This has now entered people's minds," says Misch.

"The customers are very understanding," says Kirsten Mohr. "But they are more sensitive when it comes to protective measures." But they kept to the mask obligation. Employees of other supermarkets have also experienced this.

This is in line with what the public order department observes: The city does not impose a fine for violation of the mask duty, writes city spokeswoman Monika Hörig in a press release. "Since Monday we have had two customers who did not wear a mask", says Christopher Mohr. They would have been supplied with one then. But for the employees they are already a burden, his sister thinks. She says: "It is difficult to work a whole shift behind the mask.“

Obviously, many citizens used the Saturday after the May holiday for shopping. Long queues could be observed in front of many shops, as the Corona regulations only allowed a certain number of customers to enter the shops at any one time. Particularly long queues formed in front of electronic markets such as Mediamarkt or Conrads.

In addition, according to Monika Hörig, the control centre of the town planning service had received a complaint from a customer in the Knauber-Markt in Weststadt in Bonn on Saturday. He had stated that in recent weeks a conspicuous and probably illegal number of customers had been let into the Knauber-Markt. Thereupon, police officers of the city's police department were on site for a check.

Hörig: "However, no irregularities were found. Security personnel were present in front of the entrance, who controlled the customer access." The safety margins were also maintained in the market itself. In addition, the security forces had satisfied themselves that sufficient hygiene facilities were available.

(Original text: Dennis Scherer / Translation: Mareike Graepel)

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