Due to the decreasing Corona cases and the lower incidence, the transition to life as usual is going further and further. As a result, restaurants have been allowed to reopen in Schleswig-Holstein since 17 May. As a tested, recovered or vaccinated person, outdoor as well as indoor gastronomy is accessible, and a closing hour applies from 11 pm.

However, for many months the situation looked different. The closure of the gastronomy affected not only the restaurateurs themselves, but also many employees. For many people who worked in restaurants, pubs and bars, this measure meant being significantly restricted.

Lena has been working at “Pogue Mahone” in Bergstraße 15 since 2018. “Pogue Mahone” is a piece of Kiels pub culture, the opening on 1 July gives it a bit of nightlife back. But how did she experience the time of closure as a staff member? How does she look at the opening of the gastronomy?

Being closed all that time must not have been easy for you. How did you bridge the time until the opening?

Between the first and the second lockdown we were open, but the second lockdown was of course very long for us. But we used the time to do a lot of rebuilding and renovation. For example, we redid the whole basement, there was really a lot to do. Fortunately, many staff members were kept on and we were able to help a lot with the renovation. All the service staff and bartenders helped very diligently. I tore out walls, painted a lot, sanitary facilities and even new rooms were build – I learned a lot about craftsmanship. It was very cool that it worked out that way. What’s also helpful is that even after we were done with the renovation, I didn’t have to use up my overtime and I got more tasks.

Did you also have situations during the closure where you considered turning your back on the restaurant business?

I considered looking elsewhere and took a few opportunities to continue earning money. But I never really intended to turn my back on the restaurant business. The only thing I’ve thought about is maybe cutting back and concentrating more on other things, but I’ve always said that I’m staying in the pub, so I want to stay loyal to it. I’m so happy to get back to work and I’m looking forward to opening!

What mood are you looking forward to the opening with?

The mood towards the opening is split. On the one hand, we are really happy to be able to open again. On the other hand, of course, it is uncertain. We don’t know how the situation will develop. We don’t know if the whole thing is worth it. Between the first and the second lockdown, we had to do a lot to be allowed to open again. We then also had the rebuilding work and costs to be allowed to open under the new hygiene standards, which was not necessarily worth it. Now there is also the worry that after extensive preparation we will suddenly have to close again. Furthermore, we can’t yet let the number of people in so that we can get back to “green figures”. A queasy feeling, but it must and will go on. We’ll open on 1 July and then hopefully things will start slowly again.

Your job is extended by the hygiene regulations, and you must make sure that the guests comply with them in addition to your main job. What will the hygiene regulations look like in a pub and what do you have to look out for as a waiter?

 We already gained experience between the first and second lockdowns on how to deal with the other hygiene measures. We already had a hygiene concept back then, which is now being revised again, especially about the point that we are only allowed to let in people who have been tested, vaccinated and recovered. In the past, we also had a hygiene officer from the team who was responsible for receiving guests. He took the guests to the tables, made sure that everyone wore their masks and went through the pub in a certain direction, because we have a one-way principle. Now we are thinking of having a kind of tent in front of the pub for this opening, where a hygiene officer sits and controls the entrance, so that only the groups that are allowed in actually go in. We also have security who share the shops in Bergstraße and patrol them, so that large crowds are prevented from forming in front of the entrance. The security also makes sure that everyone in our shop follows the rules. As a waitress, I have to make sure that I wear a mask, disinfect my hands, keep my distance and that the guests do the same. So, I’m actually there the whole evening reminding the guests to keep their distance.

If you are looking for good drinks and a piece of Kiels pub culture check out “Pogue Mahone” in Bergstraße 15! https://poguemahone.de/