It’s a colorful way to comply with restaurant reopening requirements.

By Tim Nelson
May 18, 2020
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Recently, European countries who’ve done a better job of containing Covid-19 and some (aggressively optimistic) states are in the process of reopening their economies. In some cases, that’ll involve reopening restaurant dining rooms, albeit with certain capacity restrictions and social distancing policies.

But as anyone who’s tried to grocery shop or order takeout since this all started can tell you, it’s hard to know if you’re actually six feet away from someone in the absence of a visual aid. That’s why I have no choice but to tip my Tyrolean hat to Cafe Rothe in Scherin, Germany, which found a truly whimsical way to ensure its patrons don’t get too close: pool noodle hats.

As seen above, Cafe Rothe’s patrons can enjoy a nice coffee or bier outside while adorned in a cap bedecked with the colorful flotation devices that are instantly familiar to anyone who’s spent time near an outdoor swimming pool. Given that these pool noodles usually function as a 10-year-old’s weapon of choice, owner Jaqueline Rothe’s idea represents an important and peaceful repurposing of the pool toy.

“It was a perfect gag and of course it was funny, our customers were really into it,” Rothe told German TV station RTL according to CNN. But what it did show to us (was) how difficult it is to keep a distance of 1.5 meters [4.9 feet].”

Like other restaurants throughout Germany, Cafe Rothe is operating at a limited capacity. “We only have 12 tables inside and only eight outside,” Rothe said, down from the usual 36 inside and 20 outside. So even if the stunt does drum up business, things still won’t be as good as they were before.

Rothe’s isn’t the only example of a German applying a quirky sense of ingenuity to the current moment. You may recall the recent tale of Hartmut Frey, who used a fishing rod to get some baguettes from his favorite bakery across the closed German-French border. Maybe combining these two ideas could work as a way to complete transactions from an appropriate distance? There’s only one way to find out.

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