Berlin’s famous Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market cancelled due to coronavirus concerns

Berlin’s famous Gendarmenmarkt Christmas market cancelled due to coronavirus concerns
The famous Christmas market at Gendarmenmarkt normally attracts thousands each year. Photo: DPA
Glühwein (mulled wine) and a cosy atmosphere at the foot of picturesque buildings normally attract thousands to the Christmas market at Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt every year.

But due to the risk posed by growing coronavirus cases, there will be no enticing stalls or glowing Christmas trees to be seen in 2020. 

Helmut Russ, the organiser of the event, announced its cancellation on Thursday, telling the Welt newspaper that the risk was simply too high and “impossible to calculate”.

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An ‘incredibly painful’ decision

The market, which was supposed to take place between November 23rd to December 31st, attracted over 900,000 visitors last year. It will be the first time since its opening in 2003 that it will not take place. 

According to Russ, the cancellation will cost the market organisers and traders between €22 to €25 million, not including the revenue that will be lost by hotels, shops and restaurants in the area. 

The market was initially supposed to take place as usual, albeit with a stringent hygiene concept. 

READ ALSO: Germany plans ahead for Christmas markets amid summer heat

Customers would have had to book a time slot in advance, and thermal cameras were to be used to detect people with high temperatures and those not wearing masks. 

But as cases across Germany continue to rise, the risk that the market would have to close soon after opening was simply too high, Russ explained. 

The decision will affect around 120 market traders, a large blow after an already difficult year for businesses. 

A difficult festive season

The organisers had asked the Berlin Senate for €900,000 to help protect the market traders from going bankrupt should this be the case, but no deal could be reached. 

“It’s incredibly painful to have to do this, because the Christmas market is also a cultural institution. During dark times, it brings a bit of warmth and light into the city and into people’s hearts”, said Russ. 

The Berlin Senate announced earlier this week that Christmas markets would be allowed to go ahead this year, despite rising case numbers in the city. 

To reduce the risk of infection, masks will be compulsory and there will be a ban on selling alcohol after 11pm. 

Currently, the Christmas markets at Potsdamer Platz, Breitscheidplatz, Charlottenburg Palace and the Kulturbrauerei are expected to take place as planned. 

READ ALSO: Cologne's famous Christmas market cancelled amid coronavirus concerns

Famous markets in cities such as Frankfurt, Dresden, Hamburg and Munich have also been given the go-ahead, provided that a special hygiene concept is in place. 

Other cities, however, have decided to cancel their markets due to the pandemic. Brandenburg’s capital of Potsdam cancelled its famous Blauer Lichterglanz Christmas market earlier this week, and famous markets in Cologne and Heidelberg have met a similar fate. 

 

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