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CHRISTMAS

Police evacuate German Christmas market after security scare

Police in Berlin evacuated on Saturday night the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz, the target of a deadly terror attack three years ago.

Police evacuate German Christmas market after security scare
Police near the Breitscheidplatz Christmas market on Saturday. Photo: DPA

The city’s police tweeted at around 8:30pm on Saturday that they were investigating a “possibly suspicious object”.

Following a two-hour long investigation, the alarm was lifted. No suspicious objects were found, German media including Bild and Der Tagesspiegel reported.

Two men who “left the square suspiciously quickly” have been arrested following Saturday’s events, police said in a briefing at the scene according to Der Tagesspiegel.

No further information was initially released or confirmed about the pair.

Large numbers of armed police were present and the scene was also being investigated by police dogs, according to Berliner Zeitung.

The Christmas market is located close to the Gedächtniskirche church, one of the most recognizable buildings in the German capital.

12 people lost their lives and several others wounded in a terror attack on the Breitscheidplatz market in 2016, when Tunisian Anis Amri drove a lorry into the Christmas market.

Amri was later shot and killed by police in Italy while on the run.

Visitors to the Christmas market left the area in a calm and orderly manner after the alert was raised on Saturday, Berlin’s police wrote on Twitter.

Trains at Zoologischer Garten station were temporarily delayed during the police operation.

READ ALSO: Berlin remembers victims of Christmas market terror attack three years on

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CHRISTMAS

German Christmas market closures ‘can’t be ruled out’: health expert

As Germany battles a fierce Covid wave, concerns are growing over events, with one health expert saying closures of the country's beloved Christmas markets can't be ruled out.

Revellers enjoy mulled wine at the 'Santa Pauli' Christmas market in Hamburg on November 15th.
Revellers enjoy mulled wine at the 'Santa Pauli' Christmas market in Hamburg on November 15th. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Marcus Brandt

Martina Wenker, president of the Lower Saxony Medical Association, said she believed Christmas markets may have to be cancelled if the Covid-19 situation gets worse in Germany. 

“Depending on the regional incidence situation, closures should not be ruled out in extreme cases,” Wenker told the Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung.

“We can’t stand by and celebrate while next door in the hospitals, planned operations have to be postponed frequently, corona patients are dying, and staff in practices and clinics are at their limits.”

Wenker said regional leaders allowed the opening of Christmas markets on the basis that the Covid situation was moderate.

“But if we reach higher levels of escalation, we will have to consider whether Christmas markets are still justifiable,” she said.

Germany on Tuesday reported 32,048 Covid infections within 24 hours and 265 Covid-related deaths. The 7-day incidence increased to 312.4 Covid cases per 100,000 residents. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s Covid incidence tops 300 for first time

‘Maximum safety’

Bavarian state premier Markus Söder said on Monday that he wanted to ensure there was “maximum safety” around Christmas markets.

He said it will be among the topics discussed at the Covid crisis talks between the federal government and state leaders this Thursday. 

In general, Söder said mask requirements should remain at Christmas markets as well as distance rules and other protection measures. 

In an interview with broadcaster Bayern3, Söder explained that so far there is no legal framework for Bavaria to cancel Christmas markets. “At the moment, we cannot legally order it,” he said.

Some Christmas markets, which have recently opened to the public, are already enforcing strict rules such as excluding the unvaccinated from entry, or not serving alcohol to people unless they can show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid. 

READ ALSO:

Vocabulary

Christmas market – (der) Weihnachtsmarkt

Celebrate – feiern

Planned operations/procedures – geplante Eingriffe 

Postponed – verschoben

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.

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