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What Germany’s loosening Covid-19 lockdown means for a street paper

While some shops are starting to reopen, bodo vendors are not back on the street just yet. But the street paper is adapting to the situation, says Editor-in-Chief Bastian Pütter

Germany is among the first European countries to show light at the end of the lockdown tunnel as it slowly started to reopen this week.

Shops smaller than 800 square metres were allowed to open in areas of the country, meaning that florists, bike and car outlets, bookshops and more were back in business from Monday, albeit with strict social distancing rules still firmly in place.

It’s the first taste of normality that many will have experienced since lockdown measures started being introduced a month ago.

Earlier this month, The Big Issue tapped into the network of street papers across the world to create a picture of how homeless people in countries outside the UK were being affected by the coronavirus – and how titles that work like The Big Issue are adapting, supporting and surviving.

One of those street papers was Dortmund-based bodo, So we got back in touch with Editor-in-Chief Bastian Pütter to see how the changing situation is affecting bodo and its vendors. He told The Big Issue:

“Since Monday there has been a loosening of the lockdown. German federalism is now ensuring that different rules apply in 16 federal states, in addition, cities can decide their own restrictions.

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“Here in North Rhine-Westphalia, many shops have been allowed to reopen since Monday, with relatively strict hygiene rules. Public opinion is divided on whether this is the right step or whether it increases the likelihood of another lockdown.

“We have decided not to start selling on the street again yet. Our financial means are sufficient for six more weeks, we get so many donations that we can provide our vendors with supermarket vouchers. We have expanded our street work and in addition, with partners from our network, we have opened a hygiene centre with showers and a clothing store.

“Most of our vendor pitches are in front of supermarkets, where security services are currently organising access, often this is stressful. Two weeks ago we put up posters at all vendor pitches with the title ‘We are still here’ and a reference to our digital edition. Now we visit the vendors’ pitches and decide where it is possible to sell again and where it is not reasonable.

“On May 1, we will not publish a normal magazine, but an ePaper in cooperation with the football club Borussia Dortmund and the football blog schwatzgelb.de to generate donations and attention.

“In May we will also resume sales on a trial basis. Our current issue is scheduled to run for two months. We are testing different possibilities for contactless purchases. We have masks and gloves for our sales staff and we will have to see how it works out.

“But a regular monthly bodo will be published again on 1 June – hopefully.”

Bastian Pütter is the Editor-in-Chief of bodo

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