So many people gather in front of the booths for a glass of mulled wine every evening that the authorities are sounding the alarm.
Every evening, as soon as it gets dark, small groups gather in Berlin's hipster Prenzlauer Berg district in the Kulturbrauerei "cultural brewery". In normal life, restaurants are packed with visitors around Christmas time, especially on weekends. People met at corporate parties, families, with friends. It was impossible to get to some restaurants without an appointment. Today the tables are against the wall.
Everything is quiet inside, but life is boiling outside. The savior of the service economy in Germany is called "gluwein", mulled wine. This hot drink, red wine with spices and a slice of orange, gathers crowds of holiday-bored citizens every evening and fills empty checkout counters in restaurants and bars.
Since November, all restaurants in Germany are open takeaway only. If the police or Ordnungsamt, the department of order, see visitors inside the restaurant, the owners will be fined 5,000 euros. It cannot be said that the restaurateurs were offended. Closing institutions due to the pandemic and growing numbers of infected, the German authorities decided to compensate for the lost income. In November and December, restaurateurs will receive 75% of the income of the corresponding period last year. What will happen in January is not yet known exactly. They say they will only compensate for fixed income - rent, communal flat. After all, budget money is counted even in such rich countries as Germany.
Gluwein is a profitable business. On good days, popular restaurants sell up to 1,000 liters per day. Small and medium-sized cafes are happy if they can sell 200-300 liters. A glass of gluwein costs from 2.50 to 3.5 euros, if you add "shus" - a sip of rum or tincture - the price immediately rises to 4-5 euros. But lovers of intoxicants are not confused by this. Some leave 100 or more euros.
People are fatigued from quarantines, no matter whether they are full or, as it is now, "light". There is no holiday in life. Theaters, museums and concerts are closed for epidemiological reasons. Christmas markets did not open. There is only one bazaar for the whole of Berlin on the Kurfürstendamm, in the west of the city, and it works with restrictions. Christmas markets in Germany are an institution. They always start on Advent 1, four weeks before Christmas, and run every day until December 24th. This year only stalls with mulled wine remained from the bazaars. So people gather in front of them every evening.
Gluwein parties go all over the country. In Cologne in one of the districts 200 people gathered for a glass. Many did not have masks, and social distance was not respected. According to SPD health expert Dr. Lauterbach, the police are nowhere to be seen. And in Heidelberg, the police had to intervene - 200 people decided to arrange a procession from tent to tent across the city. 20 police officers took part in the raid. 70 mulled wine lovers will pay a fine of 150 euros for violating the rules of social distance. It got to the point that Heidelberg's Ordnungsamt banned the sale of mulled wine throughout the city.
But the authorities intervene when there is no other way out. Everyone understands that it is necessary to give people a sense of the holiday. They will not have Christmas this year, because it is forbidden to gather more than ten people throughout the country. New Year and the usual fireworks at each entrance are also not expected. So people clink glasses with plastic cups instead of beautifully painted mugs. Simple, however!