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HEALTH

What’s it like sharing a flat in Germany during the coronavirus pandemic?

We all have to spend more time at home to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic. But what's that like if you're flatsharing with others who are not family? This is what it's like for a group of German students.

What's it like sharing a flat in Germany during the coronavirus pandemic?
An uplifting sign on the window of a Munich flat. Photo: DPA

There's group yoga in the morning, homemade pizza at night and always someone with toilet paper. For six
German students in a Dortmund flat, the COVID-19 lockdown has its upsides.

With no classes to attend and their social lives interrupted, four young women and two men sharing a three-bedroom flat are suddenly enjoying a lot of quality time, as they join millions of Germans in staying home to slow the pandemic.

“I'm so glad I don't live alone right now, the walls would be closing in on me,” said 22-year-old IT student Thilo.

“There's always something to do here,” his girlfriend Lana, 21, agreed.

On Friday, the gang gathered in the kitchen to make pizza from scratch, everyone contributing ingredients. Afterwards, they watched a movie beamed onto their living room wall.

As many universities have delayed the start of their semesters, the flatmates have been able to dedicate plenty of down-time to honing their video game skills, with “Mario Kart” a group favourite.

Large jigsaw puzzles and board games have also helped while away the hours.

And when Celine's pixie cut needed a trim, Rike gave it her best shot, turning the kitchen into a makeshift salon.

Keen to keep fit despite the gym being closed, the group have started doing morning yoga sessions together.

“That's been a new discovery for us,” said Thilo.

READ ALSO: What's the latest on coronavirus in Germany and what do I need to know?

People have been playing musical instruments from their windows, like this family in Frankfurt Oder. Photo: DPA

The chore schedule has gone out the window meanwhile, written for a different era when people weren't inside all day.

Cleaning up after yourself and keeping the shared spaces tidy has become more important, Thilo explained. “But at least we can talk things out right away since we're all here.”

After more than three years in the flatshare, Thilo said he already knew his friends quite well. But the lockdown combined with all the free time has clearly exposed the early birds and the night owls.

“Some days I've been up for three hours before anyone else has even got out of bed,” he laughed.

And while the rest of the nation has frantically stocked up on toilet paper, the housemates in Dortmund had a different priority.

“We're not too worried about toilet paper, we should have enough for now. But we have one flatmate who loves eating pasta so we rushed out to buy a couple of extra packs,” said Thilo.

READ ALSO: Which parts of Germany are worst affected by coronavirus?

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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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