Guest Post: by Dr. Maria Hobl in Munich
Today we have a guest post by my friend and walking partner in Sidi Ifni, Dr. Maria Hobl. In the winter we enjoy long walks on our town beach, often followed by sitting at a beachfront cafe to watch the sun set over the Atlantic. Maria and her husband returned to Munich on a repatriation flight in March. If you would like to read Maria’s blog in the original German, or have an automatic translation into French or another language, please go to Maria’s blog: https://bentikira.blogspot.com
My sense of time is gone. If you ask me how long I’ve been back to Germany from Morocco and I’m almost only in my apartment, I would say: it felt like six months. But it is ‘only’ seven weeks. In the early days, the exciting stories about successful trips home came on the phone, then everyone spoke of the troubles of their house arrest. Especially the professionals who had to get used to working in the ‘home office’ were very exhausted. Like the rabbits and the snake, we all stared at the latest figures: new infections, sick people, deaths! Shocked by the gruesome pictures from northern Italy, we all hoped that Germany would be spared such an event. And so we stayed at home, didn’t visit anyone, hoarded toilet paper and noodles.
As if we were mocked, we had the sunniest April ever. I could go for a walk, but only with a face mask (this was my own decision).
Fortunately, after the worst fears were not fulfilled, many lost patience. Our lobbyists and some politicians fueled the feeling on TV shows that life had to be quickly switched back to ‘normal’.
And so started the race to quickly loosen all restrictions. Bavaria – my state – with 341 has the highest number of infected per 100,000 (as of 12.5.20). In all of Germany there are 204, the northern state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is the least affected with 45 / 100,000. So it makes sense to me that the easing will come a little later in Bavaria than in other parts of Germany – even if many don’t understand that different regulations can be possible in a federal state.
The nicest thing for me is that I can go to the hairdresser TOMORROW – with a mask and without the usual coffee and newspaper service – but I can finally get rid of the wool on my head.
It is also nice that we can meet with friends again, albeit with limited numbers and always with caution – keep your distance!
All shops are open – but the citizens have somehow lost their desire to shop, after all the economic effects of the epidemic are enormous. Fortunately, most people do not fall into absolute poverty. Of course, all the unemployed have health insurance and there is a wide range of help for companies, the self-employed, short-time workers and artists. The mountains of debt that are being built up and will be paid off by our grandchildren.
The restaurants and hotels are to be opened gradually by the end of the month. Animal parks and golf courses are already open. Only for cinemas and theaters – and brothels – there is no announcement when hey can open again.
The biggest shock for Bavaria was that the Oktoberfest – the big beer festival – was canceled like all other popular festivals. It’s not a loss for me, but Munich hoteliers and taxi drivers suffer a lot.
Yes and now – how am I doing? I am horrified to see that many people see the obligation to wear a mask very loosely when shopping: that contact sports like football are allowed again; that a not inconsiderable number of rebellious citizens take part in demonstrations against the restrictions on freedom without any caution. The sovereign region of South Tyrol in northern Italy wants to allow tourism from Germany again in the summer. Austria, Croatia and Turkey – like so many other countries dependent on tourism – want to see guests in their hotels again. It’s like a bet we make with each other. Who wins: the brave or the virus? We’ll know soon – and I hope for all of us that my bunny-footed worries aren’t right.