Leipzig: Demo without masks can take place, bars have to close

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In one of Leipzig’s oldest restaurants – “Auerbachs Kellers” – nothing is going on. Even with masks, less occupied spaces and a minimum distance, operations cannot continue here.

While René Stoffregen, the managing director of “Auerbachs Keller”, waits in vain for guests, not far from the restaurant last Saturday at least 20,000 people demonstrated against the corona measures – most of them without a mask.

“It’s for the K …”, Stoffregen tells He couldn’t understand that something like this could happen, but he must close. And further: “We did everything as restaurateurs so that our restaurants could stay open,” he says. Stoffregen cannot understand that people can now demonstrate directly in the city center without observing the hygiene measures. “The court failed,” he said.

Restaurateurs are dependent on government aid

“Auerbachs Keller” is one of the oldest restaurants in Leipzig. In the middle of the city center, tourists stay here to see the restaurant where Johann Wolfgang Goethe once drank wine. 80 percent of all guests come through trade fairs and conferences, explains Stoffregen. There is upscale Saxon cuisine to eat. But at the moment the roulade is only available “to be carried home”, it says on the homepage.

Out-of-home sales do not even correspond to five percent of their actual sales and are not cost-covering. Normally, it is the autumn and winter months that run well financially in the cellar economy, explains Stoffregen, and that help finance the rest of the year. Then he makes up to 700,000 euros in sales per month in autumn and winter. Now is probably 20,000 euros. “It felt like Corona the whole year,” says the managing director.

Like other restaurateurs, Stoffregen is dependent on state aid. Restaurants like “Auerbachs Keller”, which have to close in November, get 75 percent of the turnover from November last year. This applies to companies with up to 50 employees. But Stoffregen doesn’t really want help from the state: “I don’t want anything for free, I want to earn money myself.”

“We have invested 60,000 euros in the corona protective measures alone”

A few streets away is the fine organic restaurant “Macis”. Unlike “Auerbachs Keller”, the restaurant was only reopened in March 2019. In addition to a restaurant, there is also an organic supermarket, a bakery and a bistro. In October the restaurant would have reached its breakeven point if Corona had not come.

“We have invested 60,000 euros in the corona protection measures alone,” says managing director Nancy Naumann-Hirt. The ventilation has been expanded, Plexiglas walls have been purchased and spaces have been reduced. Most recently, in October they had a net sales loss of around 160,000 euros in the restaurant. “Now we have to kick in order to survive financially,” says Hirt.

The organic market as a “battle zone” between mask wearers and opponents

The “Macis” restaurant has now submitted an urgent application to the Higher Administrative Court (OVG) in Bautzen. In it, the restaurant calls for the lockdown to be lifted for its operations. If the application goes through, all restaurants with a hygiene concept in Saxony could possibly reopen soon.

In Berlin, however, restaurateurs were unsuccessful. Here 22 innkeepers initiated urgent proceedings against the opening ban. However, the court rejected him on Tuesday. The reason: It cannot be proven that restaurants do not contribute significantly to the spread of the pandemic. The closure is therefore a suitable measure to combat the pandemic.

In the case of the “Macis” restaurant, the verdict is still open. However, this is decided by the same court that also made it possible for the organizers of the “thinking outside the box” to demonstrate in the city center.

“I am stunned that no hygiene regulations were observed there and that we have to close despite the protection concept,” commented Naumann-Hirt on the demos last weekend. But that is her personal opinion.

“The organic supermarket has now become a battle zone,” she says. Some wore the mask, others didn’t want to. “As a company, we don’t want to be part of this polarizing conflict, we just want to survive the Corona period,” says Naumann-Hirt cautiously. In addition to the existential fears, there is now the fear of angry customers who split into two camps.

Industry associations are cautious about the “thinking outside the box” demonstration

At the request of, how industry associations judged the Leipzig demonstration after restaurants and hotels had to partially or completely close despite hygiene concepts, was cautious.

The Hotel- und Gaststättenverband e.V. only replied that the decision on necessary corona measures was in the hands of the federal states. “In that case, the government in Saxony is called upon to explain its decision,” said a spokeswoman.

The head of the hotel and restaurant association in Saxony, Axel Klein, says: “Demonstrators and restaurants have the same rules. If someone violates it, it has to be punished. ”Nonetheless, restaurateurs would not be in a bad position with the new state support from the 75 percent. “That is far more sales than the restaurants would normally have made in November this year,” says Klein.

The Landestourismusverband Sachsen e.V. prefers not to comment at all.

Gastronomy employees prefer to work in industries without a lockdown

René Stoffregen, managing director of “Auerbachs Keller”, hopes that the “lateral thinkers” demonstrators won’t come back. His employees are now quitting because they prefer to work in industries where there is no longer a lockdown. After all, they have to feed the family, says Stoffregen.

He loses in two ways: his staff and money. Because in the three months notice period of his employees, Stoffregen no longer has the right to short-time work money for his employees.


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