German cafe tells customers to wear pool noodles to enforce social distancing
By Nadine Schmidt and Jack Guy, CNN
Last Saturday the owners of the Cafe Rothe in Schwerin -- a town in German Chancellor Angela Merkel's home state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania -- were allowed to reopen their doors to visitors after coronavirus restrictions were lifted.
While people enjoyed the company and the weather, the motto at the cafe was: "Keep the social distance."
Rather than using floor markings and perspex screens to keep people apart, the owners of the cafe distributed straw hats with two colorful swimming noodles attached to the top.
To mark the occasion, owner Jaqueline Rothe posted a photo to the cafe's Facebook page showing customers sitting at tables with their new headgear on.
"Today it's like this: distance measurement," she wrote in the caption.
Rothe, 52, told CNN numerous happy customers flocked to the cafe to enjoy a coffee, cake or a beer in the sunshine.
"This was the perfect method to keep customers apart -- and a fun one," she said, explaining that local TV company RTL, which was filming the reopening of cafes and restaurants, came up with the idea.
"It was a perfect gag and of course it was funny, our customers were really into it. But what it did show to us (was) how difficult it is to keep a distance of 1.5 meters (4.9 feet)," said Rothe, who said she was surprised by the attention her photo got in media outlets around the world.
The cafe and confectionery shop usually has 36 tables inside and 20 outside in warmer weather, said Rothe.
"But with the new hygiene and social distancing measures we only have 12 tables inside and only eight outside," she said, adding that pre-coronavirus their tables would be roughly 80 cm (31.5 inches) apart.
During the shutdown the cafe remained open but was not able to serve customers inside. Now it is using less than half of its seating capacity.
"We will see what to expect when Germany opens up further, more people are allowed to travel and we have more tourists coming in the next few weeks, we will take it as it comes," said Rothe.
Germany lifted some coronavirus restrictions after Chancellor Merkel said the country was out of phase one of the pandemic.
However, Merkel warned that Germany risks a new spike in infections if people stop adhering to physical distancing measures.
Germany has recorded more than 174,400 cases of coronavirus and 7,884 deaths, according to latest figures collected by Johns Hopkins University.
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