“The Child Christ invites you to his market, and anyone who comes should be welcome.” Over two million people respond to Nuremberg’s Christ Child call year after year. Christmas markets in other towns also draw crowds. How was it in the days of Corona?
Nuremberg / Augsburg (dpa / lby) – Despite great uncertainties over the corona pandemic, towns in Bavaria are preparing for the Christmas market season. According to a survey by the German press agency, the world-famous Christkindlesmarkt will be held again this year in Nuremberg. “But of course, we don’t yet know what that will look like at the end,” said Michael Fraas, economic adviser to the city of Nuremberg.
Bavarian Minister of Economic Affairs Hubert Aiwanger (Free Voters) pledged the support of the organizers and concessionaires. “The Christmas and Christkindl markets are traditionally part of the pre-Christmas period in Bavaria. They are a popular destination for locals and tourists,” Aiwanger told the German news agency. “But markets also have a strong magnetic effect, especially for downtown retail and food and beverage outlets, and attract walk-in shoppers.”
Smaller markets have been allowed to take place in Bavaria since July 15. According to Aiwanger, this also applies to Christmas markets. According to a spokesperson for the ministry, what counts as a small market is not precisely defined.
Weekly markets and traditional arts and crafts markets are mentioned in the current Infection Protection Ordinance. “This means that these ‘smaller’ markets will generally have no more than 20 to 30 market stalls,” the spokesperson explained. It is important to know how much space is available in each individual case. And how many stands can be installed there so that visitors can reach a distance of 1.5 meters.
“Our previous positive experience in gastronomy, retail and small markets has shown that economic and social life can take place if proper hygiene concepts are followed,” said Aiwanger. “Merchants, restaurateurs and showmen have had devastating months of business behind them.” The Christmas and Christmas markets are therefore an existential beacon of hope for these industries this year, the minister said. “So I will work so that such markets can take place, provided the infection process allows it.”
Nuremberg’s chief economic officer Fraas said the biggest challenge would be directing the flow of visitors. To this end, a kind of one-way street system is to be introduced in Nuremberg, in which a uniform direction of travel is specified using arrows. In addition, food and drink should only be available to take out.
The measures will initially be tested on this year’s fall market. “We drive on sight. Everything we plan now is subject to change,” said Fraas. Whether the Christkindlesmarkt can finally go as planned depends above all on the development of the number of infections in the coming months.
Also in Munich, planning for the Marienplatz Christmas market is underway. It is still not clear if and how the market can take place this year, a spokeswoman for the economics department said.
The city of Augsburg claims to develop various scenarios to secure the Christkindlesmarkt. According to a spokesperson for the city, all the ideas would come down to “that the stalls be distributed in as many places as possible in the city center”.
Since the largest gatherings of people are expected at the mulled wine stalls in Augsburg Town Hall Square, it is still unclear if and how many mulled wine stalls can be set up there. “It may be necessary to react at short notice,” the spokesperson said.