Germany: No November Carnival Because of Covid

World | November 11, 2020, Wednesday // 18:22|  views

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On any other year, on November 11, at 11:11 am, Cologne and other German cities would have erupted into tomfoolery and street parties to kick off the popular Carnival season.

But this year is different.

Events marking the 11th day of the 11th month have been cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic in the western city of Cologne, one of the country's Carnival heartlands, where tens of thousands of people normally gather every year for parades.

Late last month, Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker announced a ban on alcohol consumption in public and sales of alcohol in shops for the whole of Wednesday, on top of existing coronavirus-related restrictions.

"This year, it is just a day on the calendar like any other," Reker said on making the announcement.

Hundreds of police were deployed to the city's streets to ensure the rules were adhered to.

Also on Wednesday, some 120 people gathered in central Cologne to protest coronavirus containment measures. Some held banners alluding to conspiracy theories including one with the slogan: "Stop the Deep State."

The rally comes after a court in Muenster found that some of the coronavirus restrictions in place in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia were unlawful.

"So far everything is quiet," a police spokeswoman said earlier Wednesday in Cologne. Grey and wet weather also played its part in keeping any rebel party-goers at bay.

Reker was also "very satisfied" with how the day was proceeding, saying that it had "started like a normal weekday, just as I wished."

Carnival fans had to make do with a digital launch of the 2020 season.

The German Carnival Association said it wanted to "bring joy into living rooms" with its online programme, although with only a few hundred viewers on YouTube, the festivities drew a far smaller crowd than the usual mass street parties.

Local authorities in nearby Dusseldorf arranged for the city's Hoppeditz jester to greet people via Zoom.

Germany's deputy chancellor and finance minister, Olaf Scholz, praised people for resisting the urge to gather in crowds.

"Even if I, as a North German, am missing [going to Carnival] - I understand that many revellers are sad today and would have loved to celebrate. Thanks for stopping! Keep your cheerfulness, it is needed right now. Soon it will get better again, then we will celebrate together!" he wrote on Twitter.

After November 11, the Carnival season percolates for a few months in the more Catholic parts of Germany, usually culminating in a week of parades and parties in February or March before Ash Wednesday, when the 40-day Lent fasting season begins.

The whole of Germany is currently under a partial lockdown, initially for the month of November, in a bid to slow a second wave of coronavirus infections. Bars and restaurants are closed across the country and strict limits on gatherings have been reintroduced./DPA

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