Just after midnight on Monday morning, hairdressers in Germany opened their doors again to welcome a surge of shaggy-haired customers eager for cuts after months of closures.
Coronavirus restrictions caused the nation’s 80,000 salons and barber shops to shut down in mid-December. After the reopening, some decided to get an early start at tackling the nation’s unruly tresses, offering their services from 12:01 a.m. Some toasted their middle-of-the-night reopenings with champagne and confetti.
The relaxation of the regulations was a welcome moment of joy in Germany as the country struggles to deal with new variants, a slow vaccine rollout and the fallout from a national free antigen testing scheme that was announced but has failed to materialize. Other stores, like nurseries, flower shops and nail salons were also allowed to reopen on Monday, but all must adhere to strict rules on social distancing and mask wearing.
Marco Trapani, who opened his salon in Dortmund, in western Germany, in the early hours of Monday, told reporters that he was booked for the entire month. Bild, a national tabloid, raffled off nighttime appointments to salons in Berlin.
A hairdresser in the Bavarian city of Bayreuth auctioned off his first appointment on Monday on eBay for more than $500, according to the public broadcaster BR. He said he would donate the proceeds to a local food pantry.
Harald Esser, president of a hairdressers’ association, said in a statement, “An entire industry is breathing a sigh of relief.”
The easing was announced as Chancellor Angela Merkel and governors agreed to extend the country’s lockdown until local infection rates are below 35 new cases per 100,000 people per week. The current rate, which has grown despite lockdown measures — in part because of the emergence of more infectious variants — is 66 new infections per 100,000 people per week.
Ms. Merkel is scheduled to meet with governors on Wednesday to discuss further reopenings.