'I looked like Robinson Crusoe': relief as salons reopen in Germany

Telegram från AFP / Omni
04 maj 2020, 17.08

Helmut Wichter had been desperate for a haircut for weeks as hair salons were shut in Germany to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

"I looked like Robinson Crusoe," said the 87-year-old, who joined crowds flocking to salons early Monday as they reopened their doors.

"I came here this morning and saw that there were already young people standing outside," Wichter told AFP, as he finally emerged clean shaven from a barber's shop in Berlin.

Many Germans had been left lamenting the state of their hair since mid-March, with some resorting to the black market to meet their grooming needs.

In late April, police busted two illegal hairdressers in basements in the Bavarian district of Miltenberg.

One in seven people also resorted to cutting their own locks during the period, according to a survey by YouGov commissioned by national news agency DPA.

But Monday saw the start of a new phase of the virus fightback in Europe's biggest economy, with salons allowed to open once again along with some schools, museums, zoos, churches and playgrounds.

Hairdressers have also reopened in Iceland, Slovenia and Greece as many European countries tentatively begin to ease lockdown measures designed to contain the virus.

At another barber's shop a few streets away, Galep Atmaca, 15, started waiting outside at 8 am.

"I feel uncomfortable with my hair right now," he said, a crop of dark curls sticking out from beneath his hoodie.

In the southwestern town of Kehl, Kehret Herbert also decided to try his luck and show up at his local salon without an appointment.

"It's already three weeks past the point where I needed to go to the hairdresser," he said, an unruly crop of grey hair sprouting from his temples.

With social distancing measures still in place, hairdressers and their customers are now required to wear face masks, and customers must be seated at least 1.5 metres apart.

Many places also allow only a couple of people inside at a time.

For Daniela Dacic, a stylist at the Salon de Beaute in Kehl, wearing a mask is nothing out of the ordinary.

"We wear masks anyway when we mix colours, because of the chemicals," she said at the salon, which is also offering manicures behind a plexiglass screen.

Business is booming for barber Ramazan Uzun, 27, whose Cut 36 salon in Berlin's Kreuzberg district is nearly fully booked for the week.

"People are keen to have a proper haircut," he said.

Despite the safety measures, Uzun is still concerned as he lives with his parents and is worried about them getting infected.

"But we have to make a living somehow," he said. "If we get infected it's not a problem, but then when we go home and our kids and parents are at home, that does make you a bit scared."