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Coronavirus: Vilnius restaurants use mannequins to encourage social distancing

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Mannequins showcase designers’ collections at restaurant “Cosy” in Vilnius Old Town.
Mannequins showcase designers’ collections at restaurant “Cosy” in Vilnius Old Town.   -   Copyright  Photo by Go Vilnius
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Restaurants in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius are reopening in style with mannequins filling seats left empty because of social distancing guidelines.

The country this week began lifting lockdown restrictions on bars and restaurants, allowing them to use some indoor seating.

But some tables have to remain empty to keep people a certain distance apart and these are being used to promote local fashion designers.

"Empty tables inside our restaurant look rather odd, and we don't have any way to remove them," said Bernie Ter Braak, the owner of restaurant Cozy, in a statement. Ter Braak came up with the idea with fashion designer Julia Janus.

A few dozen restaurants are now participating in Vilnius and it is planned to take place until the end of May.

"We decided to reach out to our neighbours, fashion boutique stores, and invited them to use our empty tables to showcase their newest collections. The news spread and well-known designers joined this project, which keeps gaining interest across the city," said Ter Braak.

There will be 60 mannequins showcasing local fashion pieces in the restaurants in Lithuania.

Courtesy of Go Vilnius, the Official development agency of the City of Vilnius
Empty tables look odd, so restaurants in Vilnius are filling them with mannequins insteadCourtesy of Go Vilnius, the Official development agency of the City of Vilnius

The clothing industry has taken a hit amid the lockdown as stores closed and retail sales dropped off.

"Designers do not have many opportunities to showcase their latest collections, and in general, the consumption is down. We hope that this campaign will move the waters and local designers will gain some visibility," said fashion designer Janus.

Retail turnover for textiles, clothing and footwear decreased by 56% in March compared to February due to coronavirus lockdown measures, according to the official Lithuanian Statistics Office.

"While the quarantine restricts us in many ways, I have always believed that it also gives us many opportunities, which we can use creatively to unveil the boundless charm of our city," said Vilnius mayor Remigijus Šimašius.

Courtesy of Go Vilnius
Mannequins are filling seats at restaurants in Vilnius in order to promote social distancingCourtesy of Go Vilnius

Lithuania has had 1,593 cases of coronavirus and more than 60 deaths due to COVID-19.

The country also recently opened its borders with neighbours Latvia and Estonia allowing citizens to move freely between the Baltic states.