HALLE, Belgium (AP) – During a pandemic of death and poverty, the concept of what is needed to keep society active in a state of deadlock is embracing Europe.
Beyond the obvious – grocery stores and pharmacies – some of the answers in the patchwork of the countries and cultures that make up Europe have access to the surreal. What is allowed on one side of the border can be prohibited just for a short walk on the road, on the other side.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that while closing things seems fairest, “perhaps it is not the most practical solution”;.
“If people are only satisfied when things can be closed, it’s a natural stance that doesn’t make economic sense,” said Merkel.
That’s why Germany continues to open auto dealerships at the moment, after they shut down during their first lockout in spring that has hurt the country’s giant auto industry. .
Of course, in Belgium, chocolate shops are still open.
“Chocolate is an essential food around here,” said Marleen Van Volsem, said chocolate at Praleen Chocolate South Brussels. “It should be like that. Because chocolate makes you happy.
Happiness does not seem to be a topic of dissection. However, consider how different Italians and UKs treat a service that pleases many.
In the country coined the term “bella figura” – the art of cutting a beautiful figure – hairdressers are considered indispensable.
Charity Cheah, co-founder of Milan-based TONI & GUY Italy, said: “Italians really care about their image and their health. “Perhaps psychologically, the government may feel that going to the salon is a stress-free and stress-free moment, a moment of self-care, that citizens need.”
But across the UK, people had to try and get their hair done in the last days and hours they could still do, before new pandemic restrictions go into effect on Thursday.
Richard Ward, CEO of Richard said: “The thought of another door lock and being stuck at home – (everyone thinks) I’ll be wary of the wind and I just go in and do my hair, Richard Ward, managing director at Richard Ward Hair and Metro Spa on London’s upscale Sloane Square.
And then there are the pleasures of life.
In France, the love of books is undisputed. No country has more Nobel Prize winners than literature, and a TV book review program like Apostrophes is viewed by millions of people every week. But walk the streets of Paris and you will see the bookstores closed.
Sylvia Whitman, who runs the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore fame on the Left Bank, seething at the prospect of huge online platforms running her business while her store closes. Her sales have dropped 80% since the spring lock.
“I find it really tiring the older you get, the more you can ignore the law, evade taxes, find loopholes,” she said. “The smaller things are, the more expensive and complicated things are. “
Across the Belgian border, books are considered essential. Even then, Wouter Cajot, the owner of ‘t Stad Leest in the port of Antwerp, found it to be a mixed blessing. The lockout has dropped passersby shoppers down to a trickle, and he will have to decide if the heating and personnel costs are worth it for him to keep opening the door.
But when essential goods cannot be purchased in the store, they can still be delivered.
“In the first lock, we had to invent a website for three days and nights, and he got the” new logistics equipment – a cargo bike “, Cajot said, to the satisfaction of his Antwerp clients, who deliver books within hours of placing an order. “So why order books at an international online giant when the bookstore on the street corner can deliver the books during the day by bike?”
It is also a question of government policy. With small stores often forced out of business, and closer to bankruptcy, the doors open for supermarket chains and online giants to pounce. Some countries have taken steps to ensure supermarkets during closing times cannot sell many products that provide a livelihood for stores closed.
It can become very complicated, with some supermarkets forced to cut off portions of their merchandise. In Belgium, Christmas decorations that took weeks to set up can now be hidden from view, as retail stores cannot sell them, as they are deemed unnecessary.
“Books and magazines are allowed,” said Harry Decraene, manager of a Carrefour division in western Brussels. “DVDs, CDs and games are not allowed. Use of sewing equipment is allowed, stationery allowed, garden equipment can be sold. Pots and pans, toys and utensils during Christmas are not allowed.
Just as toys seem essential to children, marbles – traditional French outdoor games, mostly the elderly tossing metal balls with leisurely precision – can be considered as something. mandatory for retirees of the country.
There’s nothing like the iron ball court of the village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence in Provencal, where actors like Yves Montand and Lino Ventura will hit their balls on the ground. Now they are abandoned, because the government thinks marbles are unnecessary.
Sandrine Leonard, who manages the local tourist information center, said: “It’s an entertaining activity, we can do it without it. Now that the dead leaves provide the color the sun normally does, “it’s a time to stay at home quietly and cook. We spend less time outdoors. Hence the importance of having a good book. ”
But wait! The bookstore is closed.
John Leicester and Oleg Cetinic contributed from Paris, Virginia Mayo from Antwerp, Belgium, Sam Petrequin from Brussels, Frank Jordans from Berlin, Colleen Barry from Milan.
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