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HEALTH

How people in Germany are showing their solidarity during the corona crisis

From being good neighbours to making donations, take a look at some of the ways in which people throughout Germany are showing their support for each other in these unprecedented times.

How people in Germany are showing their solidarity during the corona crisis
A traffic sign in NRW reads "We are united. Respect and thanks!". Source: DPA

In her speech to the nation last week, Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the Corona crisis is the greatest challenge facing Germany since the Second World War and that since then, there has been no cause for which our collective solidarity has been so important.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus pandemic is Germany's biggest challenge since WWII, warns Merkel

We take a look at just some of the ways people across Germany have been showing their support for their fellow citizens in these unprecedented times.

Thanks for frontline workers

While streets up and down the country have become eerily calm in the last weeks, hospitals have turned into hives of frantic activity, with healthcare workers toiling around the clock to deliver the best treatment to those battling the virus. As well as healthcare workers, supermarket operatives and delivery personnel have also still been going to work to ensure that peoples’ basic needs continue to be met. 

READ ALSO: How to help others in Germany during the coronavirus pandemic

To show their appreciation for these “Corona helpers”, citizens have been taking to their balconies to applaud those risking their health to help others. Videos of the nightly applause have been shared in Münster and Hessen, Köln, Berlin, Leipzig, Hamburg and many other regions. 

In Stuttgart and Baden-Württemberg, banners displaying expressions of thanks have been appearing in front of hospitals and even on Autobahn bridges.

A banner outside the Robert Bosch hospital in Stuttgart reads: “Thank you for your service”. Source: DPA

There have also been numerous reports of “cooking for heroes” actions around the country. In Hamburg, celebrity chef Tim Mälzer has been delivering food to doctors, care workers and supermarket workers.

In NRW, a local  restaurant has been delivering food to pharmacy workers and carers and in Berlin, Michelin starred restaurant Tulus Lotrek has been preparing gourmet meals for healthcare workers.

READ ALSO: 'Cooking for heroes': Michelin chefs whip it up for Berlin healthcare workers

Being good neighbours

Before the Corona crisis many of us may have had no idea with whom we shared a building or a street. But given the threat that the virus poses to certain vulnerable groups, Nachbarschaftshilfe (neighbourhood help) groups have been popping up all over the country in an effort to help those members of the community to still get the things they need.

“Corona Help Groups” from all over Germany – from Aachen to Munich, Bonn to Karlshagen – have reported thousands of new members signing up to assist their neighbours in the last ten days.

A lady in Essen delivers groceries to her elderly neighbour in Essen. Source: DPA

In Wuppertal, a group of students have set up a group called Studenten für Senioren (Students for seniors) where young people at university are paired with a pensioner who they can then help with shopping 

A similar scheme by students began last week in Hannover and over 900 volunteers signed up within three days to provide a telephone shopping delivery service for older people.

Donations

Many money-raising initiatives have been springing up across the country to help those who are facing unexpected financial hardship as a result of the Corona crisis. 

Over €3 million has already been donated to the scheme #WeKickCorona, started last week by German national football team players Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka. 

The aim of the scheme is to finance help for those  who are themselves helpers, but who are currently limited in their options, such as charitable organizations, support associations, but also many social projects.

Artists are a group who have been particularly hard hit by the Corona crisis and the scheme #AktionTicketBehalten (keep ticket action) has been set up to encourage people not to seek a refund for cancelled artistic performances.

There have also been numerous donation drives, including by the German Orchestra Foundation which has already raised thousands for now out-of-work professional musicians.

Berliners queue to give blood – whilst keeping their distance from each other. Source: DPA

Giving blood

Those who can’t necessarily afford to donate but have been donating something even more precious – their blood. 

After the German Red Cross reported a decline in blood donations last week, the blood donation service in the Northeast recorded an “overwhelming” response in the following days, which secured the supply of donor blood in the region.

In Karlsruhe, the German Red Cross reported even more blood donations than usual in the last weeks.

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CULTURE

‘People liked the silence’: How Berlin’s club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Berlin's clubs are suffering from staff shortages, a lack of guests... and neighbours who've grown used to the silence, representatives for the scene say.

'People liked the silence': How Berlin's club scene is struggling after lockdowns

Some operators from Berlin’s club scene are bracing themselves for a difficult autumn. For months now, people have been allowed to dance again and life has returned to normal in the dark corners of Berlin’s famous nightlife scene.

But the clubs have far from recovered from the pandemic. They face staff shortages, rising prices and the prospect of a return to Covid restrictions in the autumn.

“We go into the autumn with huge fear, because the omens are totally unfavorable,” said association head Pamela Schobeß.

Spring and summer went anything but smoothly, she said. “There has been an oversupply of events. People aren’t going out as much, and some are still afraid to move around indoors.”

Money is also an issue. “A lot of people are afraid of rising energy prices.”

The industry lost workers during the pandemic and it’s hard to convince them to come back with the outlook for the autumn looking so gloomy, Schobeß says.

Her colleague Robin Schellenberg tells a similar story. People have switched to various other jobs and would even rather work on a supermarket checkout, which may have been considered less sexy in the past. Now, he says, some have learned to love not having to work nights.

READ ALSO: 

Schellenberg runs the Klunkerkranich, a small club on a parking garage deck in Neukölln. Because a number of things have become more expensive, they have also had to increase their admission prices.

His impression is that people are going out less often and are deciding more spontaneously. In addition, people in the neighborhood are now more sensitive to noise. “Many people found the silence very enticing,” he said.

Some in the industry wonder what will happen next. Will club admission have to become much more expensive? Will that exclude people who can no longer afford it? And what happens if Covid infection numbers rise sharply?

If masks become mandatory indoors in October, Schobeß believes that would be bad for the clubs. “Even if we don’t get shut down by the state, we’ll actually have to close down independently ourselves,” she reckons.

Masks take all the joy out of the experience, she says. People have drinks in their hands and are “jumping around and dancing” and then security guards have to tell them “please put your mask on.”

The federal government is considering whether states should be able to make masks mandatory indoors starting in October. Exceptions should be possible, such as at cultural and sporting events, for people who have been tested, recently vaccinated and recently recovered.

In the event that Covid numbers soar, the states could then be allowed to tighten the rules and eliminate all exemptions.

READ ALSO: German court declares techno to be music

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