German Christmas markets face threat of cancellation as COVID cases soar
As Germany once again registers another record number of daily coronavirus infections, ministers are considering more drastic action. The state premier of Saxony, Michael Kretschmer, has called for the country’s famous Christmas markets to be cancelled - just over a week before they are due to open.
Michael Kretschmer calls for cancellation of Christmas markets
“You can’t imagine standing at the Christmas market, drinking mulled wine, while meanwhile hospitals are full and fighting over the last resources,” the CDU politician told ntv. He called on the federal and state governments to step in and relieve mayors, district administrators and market operators of this difficult decision.
Kretschmer accused the “traffic light” coalition parties - who are likely to form Germany’s next government - of being too slow to react, despite making statements about the current urgency of the situation. “I think this is a culpable hesitation, which in no way does justice to the situation in Germany,” he said.
Germany debates new restrictions ahead of Christmas
On Thursday, the Robert Koch Institute announced that yet another record had been set for daily infections, with 50.196 new cases of coronavirus reported to the institute within 24 hours - the first time that more than 50.000 cases have been reported in one day since the beginning of the pandemic.
The development is throwing the future of Germany’s Christmas markets - which were previously given the go-ahead from authorities to start making cautious arrangements - back into doubt. With outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesperson calling on regional authorities to take measures to quell the “dramatic” rise in infections, it seems that Christmas markets might be the first to take the hit.
On Wednesday, the Association of Towns and Municipalities came forward to advocate opening Christmas markets and carnival events under 2G rules - admitting only those who have been vaccinated or recovered. Under these conditions, they believe the markets could safely go ahead.
However, some market operators are unhappy about all of the toing and froing. Holger Zastrow, of the Augustusmarkt in Dresden, criticised Kretschmer’s remarks in the strongest terms: “That is shoddy and irresponsible,” he told Bild. “He made a regulation himself and said that the Christmas markets are taking place. Based on this commitment, we started planning and made dealer contracts… That drives the Christmas markets to ruin.”
On Thursday, would-be chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Germany needed further coronavirus restrictions to help combat the spiralling infection rate and “get through this winter.” He has called for the state premiers to come together for another conference to decide on new measures.