Dealers mourn the model cities

Projects with quick tests and open stores are over. Tübingen is also closing again. But in Saarland it continues in one district.

This is where the emergency brake takes effect: a restaurant in downtown Saarbrücken

In Tübingen, business owners are annoyed about the end of their model projects. After a negative rapid test and under the usual hygiene rules, customers were allowed into the shops for several weeks. “People got along with it,” says Christian Klemp, managing director of the Zinser fashion house based in Tübingen. With the new federal rules for the corona pandemic, the opening of the shops will end this week. “I am sad that you are losing a chance to continue accompanying the pilot project.” The fashion house is switching to short-time work, and the city center is as quiet as before.

The reason for the stop of the Tübingen model is the new Corona law, the nationwide “emergency brake”. Not only Tübingen is affected. Other cities have also tried to reopen business for people who currently had a negative quick test. Now is the end of the sought-after return to a certain normalcy in the shopping streets, even if only a limited number of people were allowed in the shops and distance, mask and disinfection rules applied. In Hesse, Alsfeld stopped the open shops in the city center again after a short time because the corona numbers in the district were too high. After all, the city of Augustusburg in Saxony had restaurants, hotels and museums open to people with a negative quick test for three weeks. Mayor Dirk Neubauer (SPD) reports constant infection numbers in the village and is now waiting for the scientific evaluation.

The rapid test procedure is said to have worked well in Tübingen. Retailers and Lord Mayor Boris Palmer (Greens) point out that the incidence in the city has mostly been below 100. However, critics of the model experiment state that the incidence values ​​have increased in Tübingen despite everything. Fashion retailer Klemp counters this by stating that much more tests are being carried out in Tübingen and that the number of unreported cases is therefore falling. “We have a few branches that have been closed for weeks, so the incidences are no better than in Tübingen,” he says.

Low values ​​do not help Tübingen

Rapid test openings have been an anchor for many retailers during difficult business hours. “The model tests were and are an important signal for dealers and customers that there has to be more than just closing shops,” says Stefan Genth, General Manager of the HDE trade association. The purchase carries only a low risk of infection, he says, referring to the Robert Koch Institute and the TU Berlin. In this respect, it is not to be understood that now model tests for the retail trade are simply being broken off. “This also wastes the chance to carry out as many tests as possible and to help contain this pandemic.”

A research group around the virologist Melanie Brinkmann – advocate of the no-Covid strategy, which aims for a seven-day incidence in the single-digit range – comes to the conclusion that a continuation under strict observation is responsible. In Tübingen it has apparently been possible that the number of new infections since April “has stagnated at a high level or has decreased”. For the end in Tübingen, however, the high incidence values ​​in the Tübingen district, according to which the shops must be closed according to the new Corona federal law. Even the lower values ​​in the city of Tübingen do not change that.

However, the trade association reports that shop openings with mandatory testing are not economically viable in many places. Retailers, who were only allowed to be there for customers with a negative Corona test, report more than 60 percent losses in sales compared to pre-Corona times. When shopping by making an appointment, the loss in sales was 47 percent. “Still, both are possible ways to retain customers and cushion losses,” says Genth. “However, we absolutely need a forward-looking perspective, out of lockdown, for safe shopping with functioning hygiene concepts.”