For the 68th daily installment of Big Wheel Blading’s Inline Skating and Life During COVID-19 series we talk to Bart Laubsch. Bart is a 35-year-old inline skater and freelance graphic designer living in Berlin, Germany.

What steps did Germany take to battle COVID-19 and how are things there now?

As COVID-19 started to spread in Germany, the pandemic seemed pretty distant to us here in Berlin, as did the measurements to fight it. Two weeks later the virus spread to our city, forcing the state of Berlin into COVID-19 mode. Citizens were recommended to social distance, regularly wash their hands, work from home, stay away from any risks and wear a mask whenever necessary. We didn‘t have a full lockdown, like in Italy, and could still do everything, but with caution.

One major problem we had was that the state didn‘t know much about the virus and they, along with the media, mixed up much of the information. Recommendations changed often and there were a lot of contradictions, which made it hard to develop a sense of a what is necessary, healthy and life saving.

Luckily things have faired well in Berlin and less new COVID-19 cases are being reported. Life is slowly transitioning to the new normal, which includes stricter rules for hygiene and physical distancing. Meeting with one person or a group of people from another household is alright.

Were you skating during the COVID-19 lockdown? Are you skating now?

When the situation became serious, I felt very unsure about going out and skating, even by myself. Skaterparks were closed and any activity, other than taking a walk or going running, was frowned upon. The uncertainty of the virus made me stop skating, but the constant flow of information about the spread of the virus in Germany and updates on how to behave to stay safe allowed me to start skating again.

It took me a couple of weeks to gain enough confidence to take my wizards out for a spin in the streets. Skating was never forbidden but it was suggested to stay-at-home, so since my parents and family are here in Berlin, I followed the recommendations. Right now I am skating a lot more compared to before COVID-19 since most activities like gyms, or actually any indoor activities, are restricted. The difference is, I mostly just meet up with one other person instead of a bunch of guys, which really wasn’t happening much before since the scene in Berlin is tiny.

Where were you going out to skate?

During the first two months I checked out some street spots, but mostly went on tours around the city at night with my big wheel blades. Since the city felt abandoned, I could skate the streets and really enjoyed roaming thru the emptiness and silent soundscapes of the city. For a city like Berlin this almost felt unnatural but also very adventurous.

Are you doing any cross training?

I was bouldering regularly and have been practicing Muay Thai for a long time. They helped me stay in shape and kept my body fairly fit for blading, which was one purpose of doing them. However, both activities are still restricted and I assume any martial arts will have a hard time post-COVID since it is impossible to keep physical distance while participating in it.

What other activities are you doing to occupy your time?

Working from home, but much less than before. I also tried to do some home workouts, but can rarely get myself motivated in a home surrounding.

How has COVID-19 affected your normal everyday life?

My girlfriend and I have a baby son who occupied most of our time during the pandemic. It made staying home much easier for us and didn‘t affect our lives as much as it would have, had we not focused on being new to parenting during this period.

What are your major concerns right now and looking into the future?

I am afraid that we, the whole world, will not learn anything from this situation. We have now seen how quickly social life and the economy can collapse and what problems globalization presents. If we continue as before, the early euphoria here in Berlin about the end that has not yet occurred, will have been for nothing.

How is your local skate community responding?

I think our community handled it pretty well and took the whole situation rather serious. When it came to social distancing most of our members did their part right.

Do you have anything you’d like to add?

Thank you Jan for the opportunity to speak my mind and Felix Strosetzki for the pictures and getting back to blading!

All photos by Felix Strosetzki.


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