“Prost!” “Cheers !”. In Saarbrücken, residents can since Tuesday drink a beer on the terrace or return to the cinema, taking advantage of the controversial lifting of restrictions in the Saar region, against the grain of the rest of Germany.
Snowflakes are invited for this reopening, but whatever, Frank and Jonas, 35 and 27 year old friends, are enjoying this “first day of freedom”, according to Jonas.
“We were this morning the very first at the test center, so that everything is safe, because we naturally want, despite everything, the pandemic to continue to decline,” adds Frank, whose plastic flower necklace around his neck, put for the occasion, contrast with the snow that accumulates on the table in front of him.
In a Germany tired by months of health measures, the small Land of Saarland, in the west, has decided to reopen, by reservation, terraces, cinemas, theaters and sports halls in exchange for presenting a negative Covid test of the day.
This region on the border of the French Moselle and Luxembourg thus becomes the first German regional state to loosen the stranglehold in the fight against Covid, like what the municipality of Tübingen has been doing for a few days in the southern Germany.
– Too early –
Timo Schmidt, the owner of the bistro where Frank and Jonas are seated, in a pedestrian square in the center of Saarbrücken, has therefore reinstalled his terrace for the first time in about five months.
“I’m all alone, can I?” Asks a passer-by. “Please have a seat,” Timo Schmidt replies, adding that he will soon need to add tables outside.
To taste this semblance of “life before”, a sesame is necessary: a negative Covid test the same day. But in reality, the rules are a little more complicated, depending on the number of people at the same table and whether they live together or not. However, everyone, including if they are alone, must complete a sheet with their contact details.
This reopening “is not only good, nor only bad, it’s a bit of both,” Judge Timo Schmidt.
“It is, I believe, too early to really reopen for good and I think we are going to have to close again at some point, but the basic idea of reopening places on presentation of tests is good,” he continues. .
This easing at the time when a third wave of contamination affects Germany is far from unanimous.
Several political figures are calling for stricter containment while certain regions, in particular that of Berlin, have added new restrictive measures to those already in place.
On the large terrace of the “Die Kartoffel” restaurant, the chairs remain stacked.
His boss, Mirsad Puzic, decided to continue the take-away sale, but not to give back access to his terrace “for two reasons”: “the cold” and the difficulty of verifying the viral situation of his customers.
“How do I check whether or not each customer has had a recent test?” He asks. In addition, with the absence of the French arriving on the other side of the border, his establishment “does not have enough customers” to cover its costs.
In view of the quantity of patio furniture still stored, many restaurateurs in Saarbrücken have obviously made the same choice as Mirsad Puzic.
– Incidence rate –
Dana, meanwhile, rushed to the gym on Tuesday, where, before confinement, she went four to five times a week.
“I was really very happy” at the idea of being able to go back there, says, smiling, this 28-year-old sports and English teacher, between two exercises.
Behind her, a few people are doing pull-ups or abdominal sessions at “Day Night Sports”. Each presented a negative Covid test.
“The danger is there”, of having to close again, but “a lot of customers are looking forward to being able to train again”, explains Aron Wilke, the manager of the hall.
The fate of these few free spaces will depend on the evolution of the incidence rate in the Saar, which must remain below 100. It fell in two weeks from 66 to 91.3 per 100,000 inhabitants on Tuesday.