Car park prayers to noodle hats: How Germany is social distancing

Germany is turning to creative ways to ensure social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic. Here's what it looks like.

Car park prayers to noodle hats: How Germany is social distancing
An Ikea car park is used for an Eid prayer in Wetzler, near Frankfurt. Photo: IGMG/DPA

How do you ensure social distancing at events such as theatre shows or football matches? Or even in schools, restaurants or during religious gatherings?

As the lockdown restrictions continue to ease, people across Germany are getting creative to ensure there's enough distance to keep the number of coronavirus infections at bay.

Here are some pictures that show how they are doing it. All photos unless otherwise stated are by DPA.

Removing seats

At theatre company the Berliner Ensemble, bosses decided to rebuild the auditorium so they can ensure distance when they are allowed to reopen.

“We absolutely want to play again, this is our mission,” Oliver Reese, artistic director told The Local.

The plans for the next season had to be completely rethought and organized in the past weeks. But we have succeeded, in close cooperation with the artistic teams and also with our ensemble, in playfully developing new visions for this coming, extraordinary season.”

They're also thinking about how social distancing can work on stage.

“We want to see the restrictions imposed by corona as a common challenge: how do we define encounter – between the actors, but also with the audience?” Reese said. 

“Does closeness on stage always require touch? It is already clear that certain productions will not be possible under the changed circumstances. But numerous artists have developed a great desire to search for these new signs in our upcoming premieres.”

The Berliner Ensemble is set to open in September.

Car park used for prayers

In Wetzler, near Frankfurt in the central German state of Hesse, hundreds of Muslims gathered together – but with distance – for an Eid prayer in the car park of a branch of Ikea.

Around 800 Muslims prayed in the large outdoor space to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan on Sunday May 24th.

READ ALSO: Coronavirus in Germany: Which restrictions are changing from Monday May 25th?

Places of worship have reopened in Germany but they must follow rules to curb the spread of coronavirus.


A church service in the Berliner Dom

Pool noodles to ensure distance

The Cafe Roth in Schwerin, in the northeastern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, celebrated its reopening recently by giving customers pool noodles to wear on their head in a bid to show social distancing in action.

The stunt gained worldwide attention, making the news across the world.

Bears lend a helping hand

Teddy bears have been placed at tables in the dining room of the Hofheim restaurant “Beef'n Beer” in the central state of Hesse, in order to guarantee the minimum distance between guests.

They do make cute dinner guests.

No fans at football matches

This is what Bundesliga games in Germany look like at the moment – empty stadiums. This was the scene at the RB Leipzig – Hertha BSC match on May 27th in the Red Bull Arena in Leipzig.

The sign above says 'keep your distance'.

And when journalists cover the games, they have to sit far apart, shown here at the FC Union Berlin – 1. FSV Mainz game on May 27th.

Spaced out desks

When it comes to exams, pupils at schools have to have plenty more space. This is a view of the Albert-Einstein-Gymnasium in Ravensburg, Baden-Württemberg on May 20th. 

Free tables and signs

At restaurants and cafes some tables must remain free to ensure distance, such as this one at a hotel restaurant in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

Plexiglass aplenty

Is this the future of cinemas? Plexiglass has been installed between the seats of the Cineplex Alhambra in Berlin to ensure social distancing.

Cinemas in Berlin don't have an opening date yet.

READ ALSO: How cinemas in Germany plan to reopen

Blocked out seats

Some seats can be blocked off on trains, like this one in Frankfurt, to ensure social distancing.



Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Germany to repeal last protective measures against Covid-19

Three years after Germany introduced a series of protective measures against the coronavirus, the last are set to be repealed on Friday.

Germany to repeal last protective measures against Covid-19

The remaining restrictions – or the requirement to wear a mask in surgeries, clinics and nursing homes – are falling away a couple of days after German Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) made an announcement that the Covid-19 pandemic is “over.”

“We have successfully managed the pandemic in Germany,” said Lauterbach at a press conference on Wednesday.

In light of low infection numbers and virus variants deemed to be less dangerous, Germany has been steadily peeling away the last of its longstanding measures. 

READ ALSO: Germany monitoring new Covid variant closely, says Health Minister

The obligation to wear a mask on public transport was lifted on February 2nd. 

During the height of the pandemic between 2020 and 2021, Germany introduced its strictest measures, which saw the closure of public institutions including schools and daycare centres (Kitas).

“The strategy of coping with the crisis had been successful overall,” said Lauterbach, while also admitting: “I don’t believe that the long school closures were entirely necessary.”

Since the first coronavirus cases in Germany were detected in January 2020, there have been over 38 million reported cases of the virus, and 171,272 people who died from or with the virus, according to the Robert Koch Institute. 

Voluntary measures

In surgeries and clinics, mask rules can remain in place on a voluntary basis – which some facilities said they would consider based on their individual situations. 

“Of course, practices can stipulate a further obligation to wear masks as part of their house rules, and likewise everyone can continue to wear a mask voluntarily,” the head of the National Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians (KBV), Andreas Gassen, told DPA.

But Gassen said it was good there would no longer be an “automatic obligation”, and that individuals could take the responsibility of protecting themselves and others into their own hands. 

READ ALSO: Is the pandemic over in Germany?

“Hospitals are used to establishing hygiene measures to protect their patients, even independently of the coronavirus,” the head of the German Hospital Association (DKG), Gerald Gaß, told DPA.

With the end of the last statutory Covid measures, he said, we are entering “a new phase” in dealing with this illness. 

“Hospitals will then decide individually according to the respective situation which measures they will take,” he said, for example based on the ages and illnesses of the patients being treated.