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Cologne cancels celebrated Christmas market

Cologne Christmas market, pre-corona. © Daderot, Wikimedia

The German city of Cologne has announced the cancellation of its celebrated Christmas market by the city’s cathedral, blaming coronavirus restrictions.

The market was due to open in late November, and has always been a major attraction for people in Belgium, whether social groups travelling by coach or individuals going by train.

Regional specialities and organically certified food are an important component of the market concept, all of a high level of quality,” says the city’s website, not yet updated with the latest news.

Quality is a priority even with the numerous craftsmen. The large variety of gift ideas such as woodcarvings, glass balls, ceramics, accessories, children’s toys, soaps, etc. come mainly from Germany and Europe.”

But the coronavirus has put paid to this year’s event, as it has so many others everywhere. The reason: the market’s popularity – around five million visitors a year for its month-long run – would make social distancing impossible, and the city authorities fear the problems caused by restricted entry, as thousands of visitors crowded the surrounding streets waiting to be allowed in.

And then there is the virus itself. “We don’t want people becoming sick and then having it said that the Cologne Christmas market was a hotspot,” said Monika Flocke, head of the market’s organising committee.

Cologne has several other, smaller Christmas markets, but no news has yet been announced on whether those will go ahead.

The German federal government is today meeting with the 16 regions or Länder to decide on possible new corona rules, and Chancellor Angela Merkel is known to favour an embargo on all major events including concerts and sporting fixtures until the end of the year.

If that turns out to be adopted, the decision would have been removed from the city authorities in Cologne in any case. And the alternatives for visitors from Belgium, like the market in Aachen, will also be cancelled.

According to the German news agency DPA, Merkel is not pressing for a resolution on the particular case of Christmas markets and events at Carnival in the new year. Organisers, on the other hand, will certainly be hoping for certainty one way or the other as soon as possible.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times

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