Bad Neuenahr/Altenahr Restaurants in the Ahrweiler district were allowed to open their outdoor seating areas this weekend, but corona regulations and the weather apparently deterred many guests. The big rush failed to materialize.
It was a first step even if a small one: Eating establishments were allowed to open their outdoor seating areas on the weekend. But the permission came with a considerable amount of stipulations and only a short amount of time to prepare. Not much business was done, at least in Bad Neuenahr, Ahrweiler or Altenahr. Wind and weather, but also a fair amount of uncertainty kept the customers away.
Not only did the weather system bring in a mix of rain, hail, sunshine and gusty winds, it was also that restaurant owners barely had time to tap the beer kegs or plan their purchases in a reasonable way. The official guidelines were (almost) clear: "tightened mask obligation except when one is sitting in place, a testing requirement and pre-booking obligation for a confirmed seat". However: Especially concerning the requirement to submit a negative test, there was considerable uncertainty among customers and businesses alike. Is it ok to do a self-test at home, bought from a discount grocer, or does one need a certified test from a doctor or pharmacy?
"We are opening our wine terrace", the winegrowers' cooperative Mayschoss-Altenahr announced via Facebook: "We can finally enjoy a bit of normality again and open our wine terrace", it said. With hygiene protocol in place, a contact recording procedure and a negative Covid-19 test (not older than 24 hours), they want to welcome customers again to the Ahr. The wine cooperative informed customers it could not provide rapid testing on site, "as the situation is still developing rapidly." “Ruland” restaurant in Altenahr also welcomed people for the weekend, referring to its terrace and beer garden. "We are looking forward to it. Please do not forget your negative self-test!"
"Under these circumstances, I prefer to drink my wine or coffee at home," said a visitor in Bad Neuenahr when he read the sign in front of the Café Residenz at the Platz an der Linde: "Admission only with negative test". As a result, customers remained scarce on the first day after the curfew was lifted and outdoor restaurants were allowed to open. On Saturday afternoon, only a few visitors found their way to the "Ahr-Stübchen" or the "König in der City" restaurant, where they drank a glass of beer or a cup of coffee under the awning, which protected them from rain showers. Other eating establishments did not open at all: The situation was too uncertain, what inventory would be needed and how many personnel were needed was currently not calculable, said a restaurateur who did not want to be named. He now hopes for "halfway reasonable Easter business".
It was about the same for the ice cream cafés. Next to the post office in Bad Neuenahr, a lonely guest sat and enjoyed an espresso in front of the ice cream parlor “Cortino”. Every now and then, some parents bought their children a waffle as they passed by.
At times, it was virtually empty in front of the restaurants
The big rush did not happen. And the picture was similar on Saturday afternoon in Ahrweiler around St. Laurentius. Where tourists and day-trippers usually abound, it was empty.
District Administrator Jürgen Pföhler and Stefan Voss, head of the public health department, had warned on Friday that the district was "skating on very thin ice". If the incidence rate increases on three consecutive days again over the mark of 100, restrictions would tighten up again. For that reason, they appealed to all citizens: "Adhere strictly to the current rules. We must do everything possible to break the third wave." The district administrator urged people "to stay at home even on the Easter holidays.” Something the local restaurants and businesses were probably not so keen to hear.
(Orig. text: Victor Franke / Translation: Carol Kloeppel)