Life after lockdown on Germany's Baltic coast

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It’s the middle of June and it feels like a perfect summer day in Warnemünde. The pretty canal-side promenade is thronged with people eating fish and chips out of paper cones and gorging on soft Danish ice-cream (a speciality here). Gaudy tour boats drift breezily along the canal every few minutes, and shops selling everything from surfing gear and jewellery to locally made clothing have their wares out on show on the cobbled streets. The terraces of the town centre’s many cafes and fish restaurants also seem full, with people basking in the sunshine. The only obvious signs that the Coronavirus is still with us are the masks worn by shopkeepers and service staff.

This small German town, officially part of Rostock, with its quaint fisherman cottages, striking 19th-century lighthouse and sweeping two-mile beach lapped by beautifully clear water, is one of many pearls strung along the country’s Baltic coast, or Ostsee (East Sea) as it’s known here. Part of Mecklenberg Vorpommern – one of Germany’s most popular states for domestic travel, thanks to a generous spread of forests, lakes and beaches – the town and broader region are now seeing the return of tourism after a couple of months described to me more than once as “catastrophic”.

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