The weekend has just passed, but it wasn’t just any weekend. More social distancing rules were relaxed as we reached stage two of the Berlin Senat’s step-by-step reopening plan. Along with reopening gyms, the Senat brought forward some of the steps that were actually not scheduled until June 18.
As of Friday, for example, the testing requirement no longer applies for outdoor restaurants, museums and retail outlets. It also became possible to once again serve food indoors.
Unfair: The ban on dancing in clubs remains
For many people, dancing is just as identity-forming and enriching as others find a visit to a museum. “People are still forbidden to dance outdoors,” reads a statement by Berlin Club Commission press spokesman Lutz Leichsenring. “The ban on dancing is absolutely incomprehensible.”
The Club Commission, advocating for Berlin’s clubs, argues that rules should be adapted for music spaces as quickly as possible. It, too, notices the contradiction of enforcing a strict ban on dancing, even in the outdoor areas of clubs, as indoor gastronomy reopens. It’s now common knowledge that the risk of infection is very low outside, but much higher indoors.
It’s also known that people who drink are more likely to lose their inhibitions, especially when they dance and listen to music. But to help prevent the spread of aerosol droplets, the clubs have developed hygiene concepts that include mandatory masks when dancing and limiting the number of guests. It’s unfair that such big steps towards reopening have been taken in gastronomy and not in music industry.
The way Berlin’s clubs are treated does not reflect their importance to the city
The Club Commission could be right when they say that the latest opening steps were mostly developed with so-called “high culture” in mind. But this doesn’t fit with with the red-red-green Senat, which says it recognises the vital economic and cultural position of Berlin’s clubs. Even if that was true, authorities have so far shied away from finding solutions specially tailored to these clubs.
The Senat could, for example, have insisted on compulsory testing, even for the outside areas of clubs. Masks would be compulsory outdoors and, as was the case last summer, staff would ensure that several people didn’t share toilet cubicles, like they did pre-pandemic. If they meant clubs could reopen to dancers, few from the scene would argue against those measures,
It’s a shame that clubs, which were the first to close when the pandemic arrived, have to wait the longest for a proper plan from authorities.