German cafe's 'pool noodle hats' for social distancing go viral, but it's not all it seems

Across Australia and the world, lockdown restrictions implemented due to the COVID-19 outbreak are beginning to ease.

Some countries have already started allowing cafes and restaurants to open, typically under strict rules for social distancing.

But how does a cafe ensure its customers are maintaining a safe distance from one another?

One cafe in Germany has gone viral thanks to an innovative approach. But all is not what it first seemed.

A photo of Cafe Rothe in Schwerin, in the country's northeast, went viral after it showed customers wearing hats with pool noodles attached - those long, light floatation devices commonly used in pools to help learning swimmers stay afloat.

The length of the pool noodle was supposed to demonstrate how far customers were supposed to stay away from each other.

As it turns out, it wasn't the cafe's idea, but a stunt dreamed up by a local TV station.

Owner Jaqueline Rothe told The Independent that TV station RTL was filming a story about cafes reopening and brought the pool noodles along.


"We asked our customers if they would take part by wearing the hats and a lot of people said yes," she said.

While it wasn't the cafe owner's idea, as has been widely reported, Rothe said she hoped the viral photo would demonstrate the challenges of maintaining social distancing for dining spots.

Closer to home, Ovolo hotels have come up with their own way to maintain social distancing while re-opening their restaurants at Ovolo Nishi Canberra and Ovolo Woolloomooloo.

The hotels have turned some of their accommodation into private dining rooms to allow diners to eat in seclusion.

After successfully trialling the concept at Ovolo Nishi's Monster Kitchen & Bar, Ovolo Woolloomooloo began offering the rooms for its Alibi restaurant on Friday.

A five-course dinner for two costs $130, or $220 with matching beverages. Diners can opt to stay the night, too.

Supplied PR image for Traveller. Ovolo Woolloomooloo restaurant in room concept for social distancing

Ovolo hotels are offering a 'restaurant in a room' private dining concept. Photo: Marie Duong

Cafes, restaurants and pubs in NSW were allowed to reopen last week with a maximum of 10 diners. They must allow four square metres per person and maintain 1.5 metres distance between customers.

ETEN restaurant in Amsterdam also came up with an innovative social distancing idea - its diners are offered mini-greenhouses to dine in.

See also: Amsterdam restaurant builds private 'greenhouses' for patrons