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Germany

Beer garden off limits to kids sparks debate

A beer garden on the Rhine River in the western German city of Düsseldorf excludes children from a section of its idyllic premises - and has triggered a heated debate.

Deckchairs, beach chairs, beach umbrellas, white sand and a view of the Rhine - a perfect spot, you would think, for a relaxing summer evening after work, or perhaps a fun afternoon with the kids.

But if you have a dog or kids, you'll have to go elsewhere on a summer day in the western German city of Düsseldorf:.The Sonnendeck beer garden last week posted a sign at the entrance that reads "No children - no dogs".

It's the 'no children' part that has some local parents, mothers in particular, up in arms.

Mud-smeared glasses and chairs

After seven years of running the idyllic beer garden, Patrick Weiss decided to declare the section with the sand and the deck chairs a kid-free zone.

Weiss, who has three children of his own plus two dogs, says a certain type of parent is to blame for the problem and his decision. They simply don't supervise their children at all, he told DW.

"We always had signs up asking people to please watch out for their kids, but our pleas were ignored; for safety reasons, this is the consequence." Children have trapped their fingers in the chairs, cut themselves on broken glass, and once, he says, "when I brought a two-year-old who had popped up right beside my deep-fryer back to his mom, she said, When am I supposed to eat in peace?"

Kudos and disbelief

To Weiss' surprise, the move to exclude children from a designated area in his beach bar immediately triggered heated reactions.

Weiss says he received a few threatening calls - but also more than 300 emails from as far away as New York that were for the most part positive and encouraging.

Hats off to the guy, Facebook user Jimy posted on the venue's page, while Norbert called Weiss "nauseating." Ines commented she wished other publicans had as much courage: "I'm sick and tired of misbehaved children!" Tanja, who says she has a two-year-old, comments on Facebook that she fully understands the decision.

The children aren't the problem, it's the parents, this user tweets….

….while another user comments: "Beer without children. An appeal for a boycott: beer without customers."

Quiet zone

Three years ago, a cafe in Berlin's trendy Prenzlauer Berg neighborhood started a strict no-stroller policy – also allegedly for safety reasons. Many parents felt discriminated against, and were outraged.

In Düsseldorf, meanwhile, Weiss says he is not anti-children at all, and even built a new playground.

Children are welcome at the Sonnendeck beach bar - just not in that one section. "That's something you have to respect," he says, adding that adults have a right to their own space, too.

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