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German café asks patrons to wear pool-noodle hats to enforce social distancing

Pool parties are still off-limits during the coronavirus pandemic, but one German restaurant has found another use for pool noodles.

The owners of Cafe & Konditorei Rothe in the German town of Schwerin are the latest in a swath of businesses being forced to think outside the box during reopening stages.

During their reopening on Saturday, they had patrons don special hats. Not just any hat — they had pool noodles attached to them.

The idea is that the noodles will enforce the safe two-metre distance that has been touted as the appropriate space to avoid transmission of the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In a photo shared to Facebook by the restaurant, patrons can be seen enjoying the sunny weather at outdoor tables, all wearing hats with colourful pool noodles attached to them.

“Today it’s like this: distance measurement,” the caption says in German.

The customers enjoyed the silly hats, owner Jacqueline Rothe told CNN, but the experiment proved how hard it is to maintain the distance, even for well-informed adults.

“This was the perfect method to keep customers apart — and a fun one,” she said, adding that local TV company RTL came up with the idea. “It was a perfect gag and of course it was funny, our customers were really into it. But what it did show to us (was) how difficult it is to keep a distance of 1.5 metres.”

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While her restaurant typically has 56 tables, it’s down to 20 because of hygiene and social-distancing rules, she told CNN.

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Meanwhile, restaurants in the U.S. are using blow-up dolls and mannequins to enforce the rules, while also giving restaurants a “fuller” feel.

A restaurant in South Carolina called Open Hearth has placed blow-up dolls in empty booths, while three-Michelin star restaurant Inn at Little Washington in Virginia is doing something similar, only with dressed-up mannequins.

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