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CHRISTMAS

Munich cancels Christmas market over ‘dramatic’ Covid situation

Munich on Tuesday became the first major German city to cancel one of its upcoming Christmas markets, which usually draws some three million visitors, blaming the "dramatic" coronavirus resurgence.

Munich's Christkindlmarkt in 2017. It is being cancelled due to Covid.
Munich's Christkindlmarkt in 2017. It is being cancelled due to Covid this year. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Amelie Geiger

Munich mayor Dieter Reiter called it “bitter news” for the city’s residents and stallholders, but said it would be irresponsible for the event to go ahead.

“The dramatic situation in our hospitals and the exponentially increasing infection figures leave me no other choice: unfortunately, the Munich Christmas market cannot take place this year,” Reiter said in a statement.

Many German Christmas markets were called off in 2020 because of the pandemic, but Munich “Christ Child Market” or Christkindlmarkt is the first of the larger, more popular ones to be axed this year.

It was due to open on November 22nd.

Munich is located in Germany’s southern Bavaria region, which is grappling with one of the country’s highest infection rates amid a ferocious fourth wave of the pandemic.

Bavaria had a weekly incidence rate of 554.2 recorded infections per 100,000 people on Tuesday, according to the Robert Koch Institute, well above the nationwide figure of 312.4 – an all-time high for the country.

READ ALSO: 2G rules – How Bavaria is tightening restrictions on the unvaccinated

Germany hosts some 2,500 Christmas markets each year that are popular with visitors who come to savour mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, and shop for seasonal trinkets among clusters of wooden chalets.

In pre-pandemic times, they drew about 160 million domestic and international visitors annually who brought in revenues of three to five billion euros ($3.6-5.9 billion), according to the BSM stallkeepers’ industry association.

Eyes are now turning to cities such as Cologne, Stuttgart, Nuremberg and Dresden, which are in the midst of preparing their own popular Christmas markets.

Several smaller markets have already been cancelled across Germany, but so far many organisers have said they plan to forge ahead.

Some plan to impose stricter rules barring access to the unvaccinated, while other cities will demand proof of vaccination, recovery or a negative test before allowing visitors into the Christmas market zones.

READ ALSO: German market closures can’t be ruled out, says health expert

Member comments

  1. This is just terrible news. Wonder if some of the other markets nearby will be open, such as Chinese Tower, Medieval Market, etc. Doesn’t seem to impact them per the Mayor’s statement, just that Marienplatz would have been difficult to control.

  2. Terrible. Unvaccinated COVIDiots are ruining it for everyone…
    And I’m sure that, in risk-averse German society, the rest of the markets will now follow.

  3. This is really disappointing already winters are depressing and my kid was so eager and looking forward to the Christmas markets and lights. You are robbing away the small happiness of every child. unvaccinated people are literally letting entier Germany down to boost their ego.

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COVID-19

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

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