The Covid-19 pandemic continues: Berlin’s Japanese restaurants under the 2G+ rules

by Cornelia Reiher

The new year 2022 began with an unprecedented increase of Covid-19 infections in Germany. Berlin was especially hit hard. With the numbers of fully vaccinated people stagnating around 70% and with the numbers of those people who have received their third vaccination still below 50%, Berlin’s government introduced new rules for restaurants that came into effect on January 15. The new 2G+ rules allow entry to restaurants only to those guests who have been vaccinated three times or who have been at least vaccinated twice and have a negative test result from the same day. The former can enter restaurants without a negative test result.

Copyright © Cornelia Reiher 2022

When this blog turned into a Covid-19 blog in 2020, I could not imagine that I would still write about Covid-19 two years later. But fortunately, this time, restaurants stayed open after the second lockdown ended in June 2021. As a countermeasure against the spread of the new omicron variant, from November 2021, only vaccinated or recovered people were allowed to enter restaurants in Berlin under the 2G rule. The new 2G+ rules tighten restrictions and further exclude unvaccinated people from restaurant visits.

How do restaurants respond to this new situation? In order to find that out, equipped with my mask and my vaccination certificate on my cell phone, I visited some Japanese restaurants in Charlottenburg. The first thing that caught my attention were similar 2G+ signs issued by Dehoga, the German Hotel and Restaurant Business Association, that were pinned to each restaurant’s door.

Copyright © Cornelia Reiher 2022

According to one restaurant owner, compliance with the new rules was strictly checked after their introduction by members of Berlin’s office of public order. Restaurants’ service staff had to send away several customers who could not provide the necessary certificates and some said that business was rather slow compared to before the new rules came into place. Seating takes more time now, because everybody’s vaccination certificate has to be checked before seating or serving food and service staff have to carefully check whether a customer has been vaccinated two or three times and ask for a negative test result in addition if necessary. In some cases, people cued in front of restaurants waiting for the check of their vaccination certificates. In addition to indoor dining, most restaurants continue to offer takeout and/or delivery services.

Copyright © Cornelia Reiher 2022

On the bright side, none of the restaurants we have worked with during the past years closed down despite all the hardship they had to endure during the pandemic, including two restaurant shutdowns. Although many restaurateurs stated in Summer 2020 that their restaurants would not survive a second shutdown, luckily, they did survive. Nevertheless, I really hope that the Covid-19 pandemic ends soon. Until that day I have to continue my research with a mask to enjoy the culinary treats Berlin’s Japanese restaurants have to offer to those waiting for a reopening of Japan’s borders.

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