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‘I looked like Robinson Crusoe’: Germans flock to get a haircut as salons reopen

Helmut Wichter had been desperate for a haircut for weeks as hair salons were shut in Germany to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

'I looked like Robinson Crusoe': Germans flock to get a haircut as salons reopen
A hairdresser cutting a man's hair in Berlin on Monday after salons reopened. Photo: AFP

“I looked like Robinson Crusoe,” said the 87-year-old, who joined crowds flocking to salons early Monday as they reopened their doors.

“I came here this morning and saw that there were already young people standing outside,” Wichter told AFP, as he finally emerged clean shaven from a barber in Berlin.

Many Germans had been left lamenting the state of their hair since mid-March, with some resorting to the black market to meet their grooming needs.

READ ALSO: Hair salons in Germany reopen on Monday – but with strict rules

In late April, police busted two illegal hairdressers in basements in the Bavarian district of Miltenberg.

One in seven people also resorted to cutting their own locks during the period, according to a survey by YouGov commissioned by national news agency DPA.

But Monday saw the start of a new phase of the virus fightback in Europe's biggest economy, with salons allowed to open once again along with some schools, museums, zoos, churches and playgrounds.

A hairdresser in Munich. Photo: AFP

Hairdressers have also reopened in Iceland, Slovenia and Greece as many European countries begin to tentatively ease lockdown measures designed to contain the virus.

At another barber a few streets away, Galep Atmaca, 15, showed up at 8 am.

“I feel uncomfortable with my hair right now,” he said, a crop of dark curls sticking out from beneath his hoodie.

Business is booming for barber Ramazan Uzun, 27, whose Cut 36 salon in Berlin's Kreuzberg district is nearly fully booked for the week.

“People are keen to have a proper haircut,” he said.

Hairdressers and their customers are required to wear face masks, and customers must be seated no closer than 1.5 metres apart, with many allowing only a couple of people inside at a time.

Despite the measures, Uzun is still concerned as he lives with his parents and is worried about them getting infected.

“But we have to make a living somehow,” he said. “If we get infected it's not a problem, but then when we go home and our kids and parents are at home, that does make you a bit scared.”

By Femke Colborne

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COVID-19 RULES

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

German health ministers say that tougher Covid restrictions should come back into force if a serious wave emerges in autumn.

Germany should prepare for Covid wave in autumn, ministers warn

Following a video meeting on Monday, the health ministers of Germany’s 16 states said tougher restrictions should be imposed again if they are needed. 

“The corona pandemic is not over yet – we must not be deceived by the current declining incidences,” said Saxony-Anhalt’s health minister Petra Grimm-Benne, of the Social Democrats, who currently chairs the Conference of Health Ministers (GMK).

According to the GMK, new virus variants are expected to appear in autumn and winter. Over the weekend, federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) also warned that the more dangerous Delta variant could return to Germany. “That is why the federal Ministry of Health should draw up a master plan to combat the corona pandemic as soon as possible and coordinate it with the states,” Grimm-Benne said.

Preparations should also include an amendment of the Infection Protection Act, ministers urged. They want to see the states given powers to react to the infection situation in autumn and winter. They called on the government to initiate the legislative process in a timely manner, and get the states actively involved.

The current Infection Protection Act expires on September 23rd this year. Germany has loosened much of its Covid restrictions in the last months, however, face masks are still compulsory on public transport as well as on planes. 

READ ALSO: Do people in Germany still have to wear Covid masks on planes?

The health ministers said that from autumn onwards, it should be possible for states to make masks compulsory indoors if the regional infection situation calls for it. Previously, wearing a Covid mask was obligatory in Germany when shopping and in restaurants and bars when not sitting at a table. 

Furthermore, the so-called 3G rule for accessing some venues and facilities – where people have to present proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative test – should be implemented again if needed, as well as other infection protection rules, the ministers said. 

Bavaria’s health minister Klaus Holetschek, of the CSU, welcomed the ministers’ unanimous call for a revision of the Infection Protection Act. “The states must be able to take all necessary infection protection measures quickly, effectively, and with legal certainty,” he said.

North Rhine-Westphalia’s health minister Karl-Josef Laumann (CDU) warned that no one should “lull themselves into a false sense of security”.

“We must now prepare for the colder season and use the time to be able to answer important questions about the immunity of the population or the mechanisms of infection chains,” he said.

On Tuesday, Germany reported 86,253 Covid infections within the latest 24 hour period, as well as 215 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence stood at 437.6 infections per 100,000 people. However, experts believe there could be twice as many infections because lots of cases go unreported. 

READ ALSO: Five things to know about the Covid pandemic in Germany right now

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