As if Corona had never existed – the British celebrate London’s great freedom in the pub

In a pub in Soho, I order a beer without a mask for the first time in 16 months. “Inside or outside?” Asks the bartender. “I’m vaccinated,” I say guiltily. “I didn’t want to know,” says the bartender. “Outside there’s beer only in plastic cups.”

London – The German government has extended the “pandemic situation”, England has lifted almost all corona rules. Cinemas and theaters are full, despite almost 30,000 new infections a day. The mask requirement has been abolished, despite an incidence of 282.2. Instead of rules, one builds on reason. Is that going well?

Image reporter Kai Feldhaus out and about in a city where there are no longer any corona restrictionsPhoto: Michael Hübner /

Impressions from a liberated city

At Ten Bells, Shoreditch, in the afternoon. I lived in London until 2008. Going into my ex-regular bar is like traveling back in time before the pandemic. Nobody wears a mask, although the government continues to recommend it.

Hobby footballers have a pint, Alina (30) and Jenny (35) sit by the window. “It still feels strange,” says Alina. “How do you do it in Germany?” I tell you about 3G rules and quick tests. We laugh at the German rule madness, but actually, says Jenny, she thinks that is quite good: “If you haven’t been vaccinated, you shouldn’t be allowed to go to the pub!”

Alina 30 (glasses) and Jenny 35, in the Ten Bells bar in Shoreditch, Great Freedom London

Alina 30 (glasses) and Jenny 35, at Ten Bells bar in Shoreditch, LondonPhoto: Michael Hübner /

First vaccinated: 89.2 percent of English people. Fully vaccinated: 75.7

Leicester Square, early evening. A maelstrom of maskless people flows through the streets in front of the musical theaters. As always, as before, reassuring normalcy. And yet the concern that has been sown over 16 months of Corona runs deep: Is it sensible what we are doing here? I put on my mask.

“The government just wants to shift the responsibility on to us,” complains Rob (28), who tears off tickets in front of the Prince Charles Cinema. In his cinema there is still a mask requirement, half of the seats remain vacant. “Economically, that’s madness,” he says, “but it’s what we think is sensible.”

Rob (28) in front of the Prince Charles Cinema in London:

Rob (28) in front of the Prince Charles Cinema in London: “The government just wants to shift the responsibility onto us”Photo: Michael Hübner /

In Leicester Square: BILD reporter Kai Feldhaus prefers to put his mask back on

In Leicester Square: BILD reporter Kai Feldhaus prefers to put his mask back onPhoto: Michael Hübner /

Trust in common sense. That is the English approach. It’s daring, but it has an advantage: it doesn’t seem like some can do what they want, and the good citizen is bullied. Everyone is responsible for their own actions.

We’ll soon see whether that works. Chris Whitty, England’s top virologist, has already warned: “We could get into trouble again very quickly.”

Reminders are not popular in England either: a complete stranger recently attacked the scientist in a park and put him in a headlock.

London Underground: many do not wear a mask

London Underground: many do not wear a maskPhoto: Michael Hübner /

On the underground, Hammersmith & City line. It is emptier than usual and there are no tourists. One sings. Although the transport authorities continue to prescribe it, half of the passengers do not wear a mask. Hectic rummaging in the pockets when a uniformed man gets on. He just looks at his cell phone.

Corona deaths in England today: 94. Hospital admissions: 737. The trend is rising

In Soho they blocked the streets and put out tables, the whole city a big restaurant. What a symbol for this sprawling, pulsating city that could only be kept in check by strict rules. Five minutes in the no-stopping position, £ 70 fine. How does it fit that everyone can do what they want at Corona?

Bartender Alex 50:

Bartender Alex (50) at “The Toucan”Photo: Michael Hübner /

“We had the tough lockdown,” says a waiter. “London was a ghost town then. We endure hardships stoically and kindly, stiff upper lip. But we want you to be honest. Offers perspectives. And he keeps his word. ”That’s what Prime Minister Boris Johnson did when he lifted all restrictions on July 19.

Friday morning. The BBC reports: Hospitals cannot contain infections. 33,074 new cases, incidence 285.1

“The Toucan”, a tiny pub in Soho. Construction worker Chris (35) sits in front of a pint of Guinness and thinks that we have now talked enough about Corona: “Is the Bundesliga playing again?”

Construction worker Chris (35) in

Construction worker Chris (35) in “The Toucan”Photo: Michael Hübner /

Small talk with strangers, beyond incidence and hospitalization. Maybe not sensible, but good for the mind. Today the Premier League starts, Arsenal in Brentford, of course sold out. “How many spectators are allowed in the stadium in Germany?” Asks Chris, and you’re back to the topic.

Then he wants to go. “Sitting in the pub for an hour is enough. I believe.”

Too much freedom can be stressful.


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