“I HOPE YOU never have to see it like this again,” says Markus Quint, communications chief for Frankfurt’s Messe (exhibition centre), as he surveys 440,000 square metres of empty halls from a 22nd-floor terrace. When the pandemic struck last spring the Messe, which had welcomed nearly 2.5m visitors in 2019, had to shut for all business bar the digital sort. Worldwide revenues (the Messe has 29 subsidiaries) plunged from €736m ($870m) to €257m. Most of the 1,000-odd Frankfurt staff went on Kurzarbeitergeld, Germany’s much-imitated furlough scheme.
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As Germans prepare to go to the polls on September 26th, recovery is glinting. Mr Quint says he could have “cried with joy” in July when the Messe reopened for its first physical exhibition, a trade fair for bike-part manufacturers. Bigger shows are in the…