Ms. Baró Fernández, you operate the “Timber Doodle” cocktail bar in Friedrichshain. Since the beginning of June, pubs and bars have reopened – albeit under strict conditions, which you can use in a longer period Facebook post sharply criticized to have. Why?
The regulations fail to understand how gastronomy works. The minimum distance of 1.5 meters means that 70 to 80 percent of the seats in many bars are lost – and that while visitors can sit next to each other at the counter of champagne bars in larger department stores. But even if I cover my bar counter with plexiglass walls, I am not allowed to entertain guests there.
I ask myself: Why is politics using two standards? It cannot be that hardly any landlord understands the regulation. Did you know that two guests from two households cannot sit together at one table? However, entertainment at a distance of 1.5 meters is simply not possible. When I explain the rules to my guests, just move on to the shop next door, where there are no controls.
How do you operate the bar with the current regulations?
There are usually 25 seats in the Timber Doodle. Now everything comes differently: if I host couples, nine seats are allowed, the guests come individually, only five seats. I always have to ask the guests: do you live together in a household? As an operator, this is incredibly uncomfortable for me.
In doing so, I have to believe the answers, because I am not allowed to check ID cards, although in case of doubt I am liable: the hosts face a fine of EUR 100 to 2400 for every violation of the regulation. With 100 percent of the running costs, I don’t even make a third of the usual turnover. With the help of a crowdfunding campaign, I was able to collect more than 8,000 euros to cover at least part of the costs. But: The company does not pay off and I had to fire a permanent employee.
What demands do you have of the Berlin Senate?
Of course, it is difficult to prescribe a smaller minimum distance and go down to a meter if science recommends otherwise. Officially, there is no orderly closure of bars and pubs, but it still applies: catering with a distance of 1.5 meters does not work.
We bar operators feel let down by the Senate. Politicians talk to the hotel and restaurant association, but they mainly represent hotels and restaurants. Nobody talks to the pub and bar owners.
What gives you hope that bars and pubs can survive the crisis despite everything?
The current regulation runs until October 24, and many of us will not survive. We are also very afraid that a second wave of infections will bring even more restrictions. With the infections in Gütersloh, it was the bars that were the first to be closed when the lockdown was repeated. But we bar operators stick together and support each other, although no one knows how to proceed.