Ghost Town Bad Homburg in April 2020

For a check-up appointment I had made six months ago, I had to go to Bad Homburg to see the doctor in the early morning.

This was the city of Bad Homburg at 8:30. I saw a few officers and cars from the Ordnungspolizei on the Louisenstraße (main shopping road), but hardly any people.

Bad Homburg in April 2020

A sign gives explicit instructions on the current restrictions and recommends social distancing.

Bad Homburg

Around 9:10, there was a bit more life on the street (the sun light helped too). Benches are taped to let only one person sit there.

My visit to the doctor was also in a new safety format.

  • Upon arrival, I was instructed to wash my hands first.
  • I was asked to insert my insurance chip card into the machine myself.
  • I had to fill out an extra short questionnaire about the people I had been in contact with.

And yes, my visit went well. I’m free to roam the German forests.

Homeschooling in Germany has Become Legal Now

“Der Schulzwang wird fallen wie die Berliner Mauer” (source: Bildungsvielfalt) stands for Compulsory education will eventually [sic] fall like the Berlin Wall. This has happened now.

Now, without further ado in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, homeschooling is suddenly the norm. Everyone in Germany is getting home schooled – without any bureaucracy.

1919 saw the beginning of Compulsory Education (Schulpflicht) in Germany. Over the years, there had been various appeals by individuals and petitioners to change the law.

In April 2010, a petition signed by 5400 people, was submitted to the German Bundestag asking for impunity for parents who teach their children at home. This petition was turned down in November 2011.

I had supported this petition back in 2009, and had published this post: Petition for Homeschooling in Germany

Homeschooling in German: der Hausunterricht or der Heimunterricht

Life in Germany in the Time of Corona

My favorite word right now is fiddlefart*. I’ve got so much time on my hands, and I actually work through my to-do list, but there is not much to show for. This gives me an early taste of what retiring might look like.

I’m on Day 5 now, and we are still free to move. But there are restrictions, and as time passes, there are more to come.

Outdoor facilities such as playgrounds, pools, etc. are closed. This photo shows the playground at Camp King, with a red and white barrier tape at Camp King.

This morning at the super market seemed a normal one. Searching for batteries, I turned the corner into another aisle, and was reprimanded by someone in a closely standing group of three: “Bitte Abstand halten!” (Keep your distance!). Sure, this makes sense. Not.

I just nodded, smiled, and approached the batteries from the other end. The group remained there, and continued talking without keeping distance. Ja, ja, the little policemen are out there. 🙂

Some customers kept the recommended distance while waiting in line. One lady though was almost breathing down my neck, and before I could turn around to say something, her husband pointed it out to her. She then retracted, but not without chiding him first.

I saw an appeal on social media about giving health care workers, and all others assisting in this time of crisis, a big shout-out by applauding. This is supposed to happen by the open window, or balcony, every evening at 9pm. So far I have not heard anything around here.

This coming Sunday, 22 March at 18:00, a Flash-Mob from your Balcony event is planned. We are supposed to hear: Beethovens Schlusschoral Freude Schöner Götterfunken (Beethoven’s final chorale on Ode to Joy).

More information in German here:
Hessischer Musikverband e.V.

These are interesting times.

* to fiddlefart (verb): to linger aimlessly; to look busy while accomplishing nothing.

Life in Germany in the Time of Corona

Day 2 of my self-imposed isolation has begun. It is not a complete isolation yet as I plan on making one last trip to the pharmacy to pick up medication, which wasn’t available yesterday.

It is eerily quiet in our neighborhood. Once in a while I get up from my desk to step on the balcony to make sure the birds are still singing. Very few cars come through our residential area.

Day 3 is almost over.

  • Just heard on the news that the town of Mitterteich in Bavaria is the first city in Germany to have gone on complete lockdown. The city is in the district Oberpfalz (Upper Palatinate).
  • I enjoyed my last Korean lunch – sitting in a restaurant. As of today, some restrict their business to take-out only.
  • Every morning, I watch the Robert Koch-Institute (Germany’s public health institute) update at 10:00. For your information: https://www.rki.de/EN/Home/homepage_node.html
  • Many shops have closed or are in the process of closing. Playgrounds and parks are no longer accessible.
  • I’ve heard that our local supermarket is still out of toilet paper. 🙂

Last, but not least, there is a little German lesson.

die Ausgangssperre (curfew)

Other terms in English, depending on their restrictions, include: shelter at home, quarantine, lockdown;

Life in Germany in the Time of Corona

My professional life has come to complete stop as of Monday, 16 March 2020. I have cancelled all work-related appointments, and will keep socializing at a minimum. I’m not the worrying kind, just more cautious than usual.

With this I want to share my personal observations of life in Germany in the time of Corona .

  • Walking to the supermarket on Monday morning to pick up a few items, I noticed everyone else seemed to be walking faster as well.
  • I held a door open for an elderly gentleman, he then took over with his elbow. With caution.
  • The customer in front of me asked the cashier whether there are any news of supermarkets closing any time soon. She sighed and mumbled something. I’d suppose she’s heard this question, or just small talk, quite a few times.
  • I had to meet a friend on a prearranged errand. And yes, it was different to meet without the initial hug as well as keeping distance while talking.
  • I find it hard to wash my hands for thirty seconds. For so many years, I would remind my kids to turn off the water while brushing their teeth, or between shampooing and rinsing in the shower. The recommendation is to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice for a suitable hand washing. I barely make it through the first round.
  • My husband and I made a final run to the doctor’s office to get our prescriptions. On the way there, he stopped at a wine shop to get me a 10L container of wine, drinkable with a hose. What pleasant surprise! I had to turn almost 60 years of age to have a drink as a 17-year-old might do.
  • I’m guilty as charged. Yesterday evening, I went out for dinner one final time with a friend before all the restaurants close or restrict their hours. Whatever comes next. Including our table, only three were occupied. I overheard the proprietor and staff sharing the latest news, which seemed to change every 30 minutes. They discussed why garden centers could remain open, as well as hairdressers and nail studios. Not one of them could come up with a plausible answer to this rhetorical question.

It is a strange time we live in right now: surreal, on edge, and yet cathartic somehow.

The birds keep on singing and the flowers still bloom.

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