Berlin: Corona seen from the outskirt

In the south-west of Berlin, where the city ends, the houses are lying like pearls on a necklace with small gardens. Children’s playgrounds are large here, there are only few coffeeshops, the rushs of ‘Mitte’ are far away. But also here the corona virus touches deeply the social life.

Deceleration of everyday life

On an average weekday the streets are empty. These weeks cars are parked in rows all day long. If you normally get a bus every 5-10 minutes, now you have to plan in advance when you want to go to more distant place. Only a few passengers are sitting in the otherwise always full buses. Red and white bands are separating driver and passengers. “Please enter only in the middle or through the rear door”, a sign warns. If you want to have a ticket, you are asked to buy it via app or when continuing your journey at the next tube station.

Some kind of Sunday Feeling

The neighborhood is getting calmer. Schools and the kindergarten lie quietly in the sun, no noise can be heard. It feels like every day is Sunday. The displays of the bookshop, the linen shop, as well of the photo shop can be viewed. But the doors are locked and the shop is dark inside. Those who can, hang a sign on the door and offer their services online. But if you need a new hairstyle or want to have your shoes resoled, you have to be patient until the crisis is over. The shops that are allowed to be open set rules for physical distancing. The small bakery around the corner has a big sign at the entrance asking customers to hold distance in the queue and only enter one at a time. A café advertises coffee and cake to go, which can be ordered. People can pick the food up through a window that has been converted into a serving counter. The restaurants in the area advertise to deliver meals to the door.

Living in Physical Distance

Any kind of physical disconnection has become part of good manners. People avoiding to get in touch to each other. Joggers are running curves on the sidewalk to avoid getting too close to other passengers. Children are encouraged to stop to let the older woman pass by from a safe distance. Going for a walk outside becomes fashionable again. Even during the week, old and young alike are seen in parks and promenades walking, running, playing. Will there be a lot of New Year’s resolutions achieved this year (more sports, going jogging twice a week, more time for the children and the family)?

The supermarkets are becoming the centre of public life on distance. Neighbours, friends and acquaintances meet here. While shopping at ‘Edeka’ in the morning is a matter for the elderly one, now employees working because of the Corona Virus at home crowding the corridors in search of fruit and vegetables, drinks and toiletries. A cashier wearing black gloves is sitting at the cash desk and tries to smile. Life is going on.

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