‘No dancing, no singing’: Cologne cancels Carnival’s traditional first day

November 11th is always a special day in Cologne - it marks the start of the city’s famous Carnival season. But the city mayor has announced that the Jeken will have to sit out the celebrations this time around.

'No dancing, no singing': Cologne cancels Carnival's traditional first day
A photo from 2015 of revellers at the opening Karneval celebrations. Photo: DPA

Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, city mayor Henriette Reker said that the corona pandemic had made it impossible to celebrate the traditional start of the new carnival season.

“We will issue a ban on alcohol consumption and a ban on selling alcohol outside of restaurants on November 11th for the entire day and in the entire city area, in addition to the already existing contact restrictions and closing times,” Reker confirmed.

Reker appealed to all citizens at a press conference in the Historical Town Hall: “We all have to miss out on celebrating on November 11th,” she said. “This time there will be no celebrating, this time there will be no singing, this time there will be no dancing.”

“This year there will be no November 11th celebrations. This year it will just be a day in the calendar like any other day.”

“Please stay at home, everyone,” the mayor appealed to the people of Cologne. “Do not celebrate at home either.”

The rules appear to leave a loophole, meaning private parties could still take place. A spokesperson later clarified that the ban on alcohol refers to public spaces, not to private homes.

Reker also called on people who normally travel to Cologne from other regions to also stay away this time.

Carnival president Christoph Kuckelkorn said that carnival revellers were “deeply sad” about the fact that this time they couldn't bring any colour into the gloomy November.

But he added that “at the same time we are also relieved that we are simply celebrating this day in peace and quiet, remembering how it used to be and looking forward to having it again soon”.

Carnival has been an integral part of life in Cologne and many other Catholic cities since the Middle Ages. It is traditionally a time for satire and tomfoolery, when locals dress up as Jecken (fools) and blow a raspberry at the establishment.

Cologne’s carnival is the biggest in Germany. Millions of people normally turn out on the city’s street during the Rosenmontag parade in late winter.

READ MORE: The rebellious history of Karneval

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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”