Luxembourg frustration in Saarland: Corona has its limit

Only the Moselle lies between lockdown and easing: in Perl in the Saarland, many look with displeasure over to the banks of Luxembourg. Because while the Germans restrict themselves, the neighbors go shopping.

By Emil Mura, SR

“Europe is growing together here” – this is the motto of the 8,500-inhabitant community of Perl in the north-west of the Saarland for its central location. And hardly any other municipality in Germany fits this sentence as well as Perl. The village is surrounded by vineyards in the triangle of Germany, Luxembourg and France. The only visible border is the Moselle, which is spanned by a bridge every few kilometers.

Traffic rages on these bridges at rush hour. Germans go to Luxembourg to work. They also buy coffee and cigarettes there. They are cheap there, as is the fuel. Conversely, many Luxembourgers also buy food in Germany, for example. When it comes to retail buying, the odds are balanced – usually. Corona, however, throws everything upside down.

Retailers worry about sales

In Germany the retail trade is closed, in Luxembourg, however, retailers have been able to reopen their shops since Monday. Business people in Perl worry. They include master shoemaker Volker Felten, who has been running a small shop in the town center for almost 30 years. In the shop window shoes made of brown suede and winter boots are waiting for their buyers. There are enough of the latter at this time of year, but the front door is locked.

Felten adheres to the Corona rules, but with grinding of teeth. He is annoyed that shoe stores on the opposite side of the Moselle are now allowed to open. “If you do a lockdown, you should treat it the same way across Europe. Every country cooks its own thing and the border closings in the spring have already shown that this is not good,” he says. “So if you already decide something, you should do it the same for all countries. Especially for people here on the border, nothing else makes sense.”

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“Nice for the Luxembourg shops”

Felten is still lucky that he also makes orthopedic shoes. Because these can be resold as medical products, he can survive. Shops like Vanessa Klein’s don’t have that advantage. She runs her fashion boutique less than 100 meters from the shoe shop. Out of necessity, she offers a pick-up service, but she is still very concerned about the store openings in Luxembourg.

“That is nice for the Luxembourg shops, but it is difficult for us and we are afraid that we will get stuck on our goods,” says Klein. “We made a really great deal with the open borders and that should be done with the business closings as well.”

People want more coordination

No matter who you ask, the tenor is the same: the retailers in Perl would have liked more cross-border coordination. This is a point that Mayor Ralf Uhlenbruch also criticizes the governments: “At the municipal level, we are in constant contact with Luxembourg and coordinate all decisions that also affect the neighboring municipality, and in my opinion a maximum should also be achieved at the national level to be achieved in voting. “

So nobody in Perl is happy about the one-sided easing in Luxembourg. But for the retailers there is reason to hope: the Federal Police have not yet been able to detect any increased flow of customers to Luxembourg. Why is not entirely clear. Many people may fear that the virus will spread faster again due to the easing in Luxembourg.

In any case, the pensioner Monika Lehnet foregoing big shopping trips across the border, even if they were theoretically possible again. “I think it’s up to the population what they make of it,” says Lehnet. “I also avoid all shops that I don’t necessarily have to go into.” Apparently, she is not the only one who is cautious: Her arguments are in line with experiences from last year. According to the Luxembourg Foreign Ministry, previous differences in the corona measures did not lead to any major evasive movements.

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Friendship remains intact

But what about the German-Luxembourg relationship? Has the friendship been damaged? After the border closings in the spring, a good third of the Saarlanders believed this, as a representative survey by infratest dimap on behalf of SR revealed. Two thirds, however, did not see the relationship strained. And most of the people in Perl agree. Retailers like Felten and Klein do not see the German-Luxembourg friendship at risk due to the different rules.

As far as the cohesion of the people is concerned, Europe in Perl is actually already closely connected.


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