A Bavarian Intersport retailer wanted to open its branches despite the lockdown – and has found fans he doesn’t want. Now Udo Siebzehnrübl is rowing back: His shops are now closed.
In an online shop for “rebels” there are hoodies from “Team Bodo” (Schiffmann) and “Team Bhakdi” as well as sweaters with the imprint “We’re opening up”. The Bavarian retailer Udo Siebzehnrübl from Altötting had this plan – and it quickly became a battle cry in “lateral thinkers” circles and is now being printed on textiles there.
Your idea behind it: It’s a new way to incite resistance to the measures to contain Corona. Because Udo Siebzehnrübl had announced that he would open his five Intersport branches next Monday. Despite the lockdown, despite the ban. He had described to RTL why he wanted to open the business despite the lockdown. You can see his statements in the video above or here.
But now nothing comes of it. Seventeenrubl rowed back on Tuesday. “The appropriation by the right-wing scene and lateral thinkers has led us to call it off,” said his wife Manuela Siebzehnrübl t-online. “We are completely normal retailers, not lawbreakers. And we don’t want to be saddlers for the right wing scene and corona deniers.”
There is a risk of fines if they are opened
When his original plan became known shortly before, groups quickly formed in the messenger service Telegram in which thousands celebrated the idea euphorically and encouraged imitators to break the lockdown. A man from Krefeld, who performed at “lateral thinkers” events in his home country, is at the forefront: the operator of a cosmetic studio, who in the summer also offered the “world’s first anti-corona cream”, orchestrates “We’re opening up” on Telegram and built a dedicated website for supporters.
There should also be legal information for traders. A delicate undertaking, because: Anyone who disregards the Corona regulations as a retailer could even face the threat of withdrawal of their business license, explained the Würzburg lawyer Chan-Jo Jun.High fines are possible anyway, including convictions for violating the Infection Protection Act, so Jun, who has been commenting on actions of the “lateral thinker” scene from a legal perspective in videos for weeks.
The desperation in retail is great
Seventeenrubl had initially stated that he would accept such possible consequences. Was it pure despair then?
At least this is how the campaign could be interpreted by many trading companies, commented Stefan Hertel, press spokesman for the HDE trade association. “It underlines our demands for effective government support and a clear perspective,” he told t-online.
The current change of heart at the sports retailer should trigger relief there. “From our point of view, opening the shops in contradiction to applicable regulations cannot be the solution,” continued Hertel. “Trade is currently making a great sacrifice in the context of fighting pandemics. That is why the state must also provide appropriate aid so that companies can survive the week-long closings economically.”
Friedrich Werdich, the fourth generation owner of a shoe retailer with 38 branches and 500 employees, has a similar opinion. He is the initiator of the #Handelstichtzhaben campaign, which has since collected 11,000 signatures: “We stand behind the measures. If opening is not possible even with a sensible hygiene concept and there has to be lockdown, then we have to talk about the consequences and sensible help.” In January, the spring goods arrive in retail in many branches, “and without help and without the appropriate equity capital or credit lines it will be very dark for many”.
Gastro Association appeals to hotel operators
However, the debate has also reached the hotel and catering industry, where restaurants could flirt with “We’re opening up”. Ingrid Hartges, General Manager of the Dehoga industry association, was accordingly alarmed. “With all due understanding for the maximum frustration, displeasure and ever-increasing despair, we appeal to entrepreneurs not to open the restaurants and not to violate the law,” she said on t-online request.
Nevertheless, she also insisted on quick financial support for the companies. In view of the announced extension of the lockdown, it is “overdue” that the promised aid for all companies is now being paid out.
Lateral thinkers discuss donations for fines
After the withdrawal of the Intersport retailer Siebzehnrübl, the opening of the cosmetics store in Krefeld is still on the agenda. The operator, who calls himself “MedMecit” on Telegram with a comic doctor as his profile photo, has the support of the lawyers of the “lateral thinkers” scene.
The Leipzig lawyer Ralf Ludwig, who had accompanied Bodo Schiffmann and Samuel Eckert on a “Corona Info Tour” in the luxury bus, shared the advertisement for the group on Telegram, where the post became one of the most viewed in recent days. According to the cosmetics retailer, there have also been talks with the lawyers. Among other things, they had also given advice on how mask refusers can take action against business owners who refuse them entry.
Few business owners write with their identity in relevant groups, forums and on Twitter. Above all, supporters express themselves who assure that they will then go shopping or dining in such shops and restaurants. There is already a discussion about collecting donations for possible fines.