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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

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

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