After a two-month lockdown in Romania to prevent the spread of Covid-19, restrictions were eased in mid-May. Romanian shoemaker Grigore Lup became concerned when he realized that people were not respecting social distancing rules. He came up with a unique idea to keep people apart.
Ways to social distancing
Social distancing has become a familiar term in recent months as people around the world try to stay six feet apart to avoid catching the virus. A number of people have come up with ways to get people to back off without having to tell them.
An American attached pool noodles to his backpack that extended around him. A café in Germany gave their customers hats with pool noodles to remind them not to get too close to others. A restaurant in Thailand placed stuffed pandas on chairs to prevent customers from sitting too close together. Lup’s idea is very different and, of course, it involves shoes.
Long-toe leather shoes to keep people apart
Lup said that when he went to the market to get seedlings for his garden, he saw that although there weren’t many people there, they were getting closer and closer. He realized that if people wore long-toe shoes while facing each other, they wouldn’t be able to get any closer than about five feet apart.
A long history of making shoes
Lup has been making leather shoes in the city of Cluj for 39 years. He started making them when he was sixteen years old, as an apprentice to a cobbler who is now in his nineties and still making traditional Hungarian ethnic footwear. Lup opened his own shop in 2001 and, in addition to the shoes he makes, also sells some ready-made shoes. His customers are traditional folk dance troupes, opera houses and theaters across the country who place orders for his custom shoes.
Orders for ‘social distancing’ shoes
Lup has received five orders for his “social distancing” shoes that he has adapted from a model he made for actors. The shoes require nearly a square yard of leather, and it takes him two days to make a pair. They come in the European size 75 and cost 500 lei or $115 per pair.
Cautiously optimistic about business recovery
Lup’s company has clearly been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, as have many other companies around the world. With live events being postponed or cancelled, his orders have been significantly reduced.
The state of the European Union reported nearly 19,000 coronavirus cases and more than a thousand deaths, but began gradually easing its lockdown since May 15. Lup is cautiously optimistic that his sales will pick up again over time.