“We have cancelled the market and sent a letter to all stallholders informing them of the decision”, said Monika Flocke, the managing director of the Cologne Christmas Society.
“We spent weeks thinking about how we could organise the market in a way that would prevent spreading the virus, but ultimately we couldn’t find a solution”, said Flocke. The risk, she said, is simply too high.
The Christmas market at Roncalliplatz is always a major attraction, drawing in around five million visitors a year. But there were fears that even if the market were more spaced out and access to the stalls were restricted, crowds of people could quickly form in front of the entrance.
“We don’t want people to fall ill and for the Cologne Christmas market to be known as a hotspot. We don’t want a repeat of what happened in Ischgl (a virus hotspot at the start of the pandemic),” said Flocke. “We can’t bear that responsibility.”
Germany’s beloved Weihnachtsmärkte, which form an integral part of the Christmas season, are facing significant challenges this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
They attract hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the globe each year, bringing vital revenue to hotels, restaurants and bars in the surrounding area.
Planning is underway in many regions to ensure that the markets can open safely despite the pandemic.
It remains to be seen as to whether Cologne’s decision will lead to cancellations in other cities.
There's also been a heated debate over whether Carnival celebrations should go ahead in some form. It's celebrated mainly in February and March but has some events starting on November 11th.