Victoria Hiddleston moved to Munich in Bavaria five years ago and this week spoke of the measures the German government put in place during the pandemic. “It has seemed relatively calm in comparison to seeing the news of other countries,” she said. “At the beginning there was of course a lot of panic buying in the supermarkets. The schools and kindergartens were closed on March 13. It was all very sudden as we only found out that morning of the 13 that from the end of the school day we would be closed until the end of the week.”
A week later it was announced that Bavaria was going into complete lockdown. The 27-year-old added: “You were only permitted to leave your house for essential things like the supermarket, doctors, exercise (only with members of your household) and to go to work. If you had to go to work you needed to have a letter from your company giving you permission to be out and travel as the police were making checks on people and if they thought you were breaking the lockdown rules you would get fined.”
Victoria – who works at a kindergarten and has a one-year-old daughter Lara – explained that healthcare in the country has been “second to none” and there has been little concern about their capabilities in managing the crisis. She also said schools and nurseries have been open for emergency care, much like the UK. Victoria added: “Now the eligibility for emergency care has opened up to more families and the government are hoping for around 50 per cent of pupils to be back to schools and kindergartens by June.
“The atmosphere has been relatively calm in public. The minister president of Bayern, Markus Söder, has been very clear with the public through his regular press conferences and in my opinion has instilled a lot of confidence in the people of Bavaria. He has the situation as under control as it can be.”
Normal life is starting to resume for Germans, with the majority of shops open and restaurants will be able to open but just for outdoor seating. Also beer gardens are to open from next week. However, Victoria explained it is compulsory to wear a mask when on public transport, in shops and supermarkets. “The first few times being in shops and seeing everyone in a mask was a little daunting, however now seeing someone without a mask is now a strange thing,” she added.
Victoria – who still has family members in Dumfries – stated at the beginning of the lockdown there were a few reports of people breaching the rules and social distancing but now it seems to have “died down”. She said: “I also think what made people realise how dangerous this virus is is that Oktoberfest and other small festivals have been cancelled. The cancellation of Oktoberfest was a large talking point here.”
One thing that has lifted many German’s spirits is the return of professional football across the country – albeit behind closed doors. Football supporters across the globe tuned in to watch the first major league return since the suspension of the sport many months ago. “I think one thing that has really lifted people’s spirits here is the beginning of the Bundesliga,” Victoria said. “Thankfully repeats of old games won’t be shown so much anymore. It was well received, especially here as Bayern Munich won. On social media you can tell that it has lifted a lot of people’s spirits.”
As much as Victoria has felt safe and protected in Munich, she admits there are locals who are not happy with the lockdown measures. She added: “Last weekend there was a demonstration in Marienplatz (right in the centre of Munich) attended by around 3000 people. There was also one at the place where Oktoberfest is normally held. But all in all it has been well managed here and the numbers are starting to fall which is a good sign for now.”