Bavarian cover-up avoided

Beer garden barmaids can keep their figure-hugging dirndls

Aug 3, 2005 - Bavarians breathed a collective sigh of relief this week when they learned legislation would not force barmaids in beer gardens to cover up.


Under the EU's Optical Radiation Directive, employers of staff who work outdoors in high-risk professions must ensure they cover up against the risk of sunburn. Rumors swept Bavaria early in the week that the law could mean the demise of the dirndl. Bavarian barmaids typically dress in a costume known as a dirndl, a dress and apron with a tight, low-cut top whose figure-hugging effect is enhanced by a short white blouse.

Officials finally said that working in a beer garden is not considered a high-risk occupation - at least for sun exposure. Before the ruling, Bavarians were already protesting.

"This is European law-making at its most pedantic," said Munich's mayor, Christian Ude. "A waitress is no longer allowed to wander round a beer garden with a plunging neckline. I would not want to enter a beer garden under these conditions."

A spokesman for the Bavarian Hotel and Restaurant Union said: "I have spoken to lots of waitresses and none of them have told me that sunburn in the décolleté area has ever been a problem."

Organizers of the world's biggest beer festival, Munich's Oktoberfest, were particularly angry at the proposed ban. "This is an attack on the traditions of a region," said a spokesman.