A Second Wave

A Second Wave

It has been 60 days since my arrival back in Germany. So I think I have enough time here and there to draw a comparison. And I don't mean about the quality of life B.C. (Before Covid) aspect. I am talking about now and the immediate future. I am talking about the after effects of our response and lack there of to this pandemic. And compared to my experience in the States I am so disappointed in Germany. I thought Germany was handling things better. I thought the numbers were low for a reason. I suspected everywhere else got it right and America got things all wrong. But what if all along it was the other way around? Germany has her guard down the second wave cometh.

For the most part I can say the difference between being at my mothers and back in Köln is startling. Of course there is a different landscape, mindset and overall vibe. I was in the country. I rarely left my home between March and May. In the city, I am forced to leave home. And voluntarily I leave almost daily by foot to do trivial tasks like take out the waste müll, walk the dog and recently go to a local gym. In the states, trash is put out a few times a week. I mostly let my dog out into the backyard even before the pandemic. And most gyms are still closed. We only went into town if we had to because we made large, infrequent trips to stores and stockpiled what we used frequently. In Germany, most of us are on foot, living in small spaces and we crave going outside. And I could see that being the same in New York or California. But America chose to do these phased re-openings under strict guidelines. And in all honestly I thought this was a global effort. But I see now Germany is doing her own thing. While some places in the states are getting back to "normal" it seems as if it was always business as usual here in Deutschland. Each state has loosed their guidelines down to Berlin allowing people to choose whether they would like to wear a mask or not. And while the NRW claims there are only isolated clusters, those people aren't living in a literal bubble. They interact with others in their state too!

People are shopping leisurely. Groups are gathering. Businesses are taking shortcuts. Workers are showing up for shifts. Diners are eating out. Children are playing in spielplatz. 

So regardless of guidelines, restrictions or choices people are doing whatever they want. And the following examples are all currently allowed in the NRW. Mind you nothing involving the #maskeauf campaign is actual law but come on! I have been in multiple stores and found people skirting the rules using scarves, hoods and even a napkin once as a face covering. For those in masks, they are reusing disposable ones and failing to cover their noses. Cashiers and salespeople are going mask free believing that an open plexi shield is enough protection from people doing the above. Servers and Cooks are losing their masks between passes assuming once the introduction is complete it is okay to relax. And diners are close together and unmasked from the moment they sit down instead of once the drinks and food are consumed. I witnesses two police officers pull a man over and engage with him and everyone was without a mask and in each others faces. And above all travel is on as Germans are going on holidays and only adhering to restrictions about distancing and masks when enforced. The moment the flight attendant moves away the mask is off again and the general consensus is that everyone is entitled to make a choice. And do not even get me started on children, teenagers, old folk and pensioners. This group is still exposed, high risk and touching everything, blowing noses in public spaces and getting way too close for normal comfort. School is out so children are everywhere and unsupervised. There is no one running behind them sanitizing their hands or wiping the surfaces they touch. I don't know why I concern myself knowing that most wipes sold here are nothing but water and fragrance. Anti bacterial and disinfecting make a very small amount of products and they aren't sold everywhere. 

Europe as a whole has had a lot of primitive, unhygienic practices that are not the norm in my western world. The handling of meat. The self service of baked goods. The takeaway auf die Hand culture. Paying to use a bathroom even when hand washing is almost the cure. 

This is why I am still shopping and using best practices as if I am the states. I do not trust Germans to do the right thing because they never have in the first place. These essential workers of sorts, the butchers and bakers and conveyor belt racers are NOT washing their hands. And customers are touching things heavily, skirting the rules and lingering in close spaces with others. I shouldn't have to wait ten deep on a Tuesday in an Aldi and then convene with everyone at a packaging counter that is never sanitized. The everyone get a bag, basket or cart thing should have been abandoned two months ago. It is still happening! And the idea that I can just avoid quarantine by submitting to a test upon arrival is crazy. By then I have already affected others on the plane transferring to other destinations where there is no testing. And while Germany has an abundance of PPE, sanitizers and disinfection personal size products they are not cheap. And one can also worry about effectiveness when bleach, ammonia and alcohol have primarily been considered toxic by Germans for ages. So what are you killing this virus with on surfaces? Just observe the newly appointed train and bus sanitation crews. They take a cloth, douse it in a solution and clean the outer surfaces of poles and pulls at certain stops. They do not clean seats, buttons or the inside of those standing passenger pulls. And how effective is it to use the same cloth repeatedly all day long? But what can I say I have been going to a gym where they are relying on good citizenship and gym ettiequte to prevent spread. But what is the use of wiping down a surface when everyone is breathing heavily with no masks? We were supposed to do that before Covid and we never did. Do we really expect Kevin to care now? And he doesn't because I have had Kevin tap me on my fucking shoulder at my gym to tell me he didn't clean the machine I was approaching not realizing it is BOTH of our responsibility to clean the machine before AND after use. I digress.

When do we tell people that we can no longer do the following...

  • blow into a handkerchief in a public space around others
  • wipe ones noes or face with the back of the hand
  • biting nails, picking skin, playing in ones hair in a public space
  • approaching doorways that are exiting first i.e. z.B. elevators, trains, buses
  • allow children to be unsupervised and exploratory with their hands 
  • banning cleaning and disinfection agents 
  • walk around barefoot (why is this happening so much lately?)
  • pass aggressively on foot and dismissing the 1.5 meter rule 
  • pay in cash or having cash only operations
  • touch crosswalk buttons impatiently 
  • press or hold main doors for buildings while awaiting entry
  • smoke or vape directly in front of an entrance or exit 
  • allow free drops of ride share scooters and bicycles 
  • leave items out zu verschenken and allow for some exchange
  • selling things via eBay Kleinanzeigen and doing an exchange in person
  • forcing people to pay for restroom use
  • allow reusable bags for shopping purposes
  • providing only one napkin with a meal or none at all
  • making ill people physically go to the pharmacy for their prescriptions
  • have self service baked goods and or prepared foods options in grocery stores and cafes
  • offering open condiments or multi use condiments in restaurant and bar settings
  • allow drug and beauty store sampling or try-ons
  • offer no anti theft or packaging on sensitive products 
  • have makeup counters and sampling environments
  • banning home schooling
  • allow cleaning products to have no disinfecting or sanitizing agents in them
  • have dressing rooms or intimate gathering spaces
  • allow for saunas, spas and other intimate treatments
  • leave their homes without a mask (wear them the moment you exit your door)
  • allow people to gather and demonstrate for causes that have no bearing here (Berlin smh)
I just cannot wrap my head around it. Vacationing in Mallorca or Lisbon. Having people over egal. Going to the got damn movies. Offering play dates and overnight Oma stays. Going to Primark for fun. 
It is like we are welcoming the second wave which is inevitable hot weather or not it is coming. And when it comes I don't think the nose out masks and outside freedoms are going to keep it at bay. It will be evolved, stronger and relentless. Just like in S.Korea, Spain and Australia. I am going in my bunker.