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Corona crisis: Bonn and the region discuss carnival cancellation

Corona crisis : Bonn and the region discuss carnival cancellation

After Health Minister Jens Spahn brought into play the complete cancellation of the carnival session 2020/21, a controversial discussion has flared up among the societies in Bonn and the region. It is characterised by a sense of responsibility though. An overview.

Cancel carnival, or develop concepts on how to maintain the customs of the fifth season despite Corona - that is the question here. The president of the Bonn Carnival Festival Committee, Marlies Stockhorst, said on Wednesday on the current discussion about carnival in Corona times: "Of course, the protection of health has always been and still is the top priority for us carnivalists. Therefore, clear decisions from the responsible committees and authorities are needed. Carnival is the cultivation of Rhenish customs, just as the Bonn session motto would express it: "Schwaade, laache, joode Saache mache".

This included the symbolic figures Prince and Bonna as well as the carnival speech or the awarding of an order for honorary commitment. "But we also know: Carnival, as we know and love it, will not be able to exist in the next session. We must and want to make sure that this important centuries-old custom, which is also a cultural heritage, does not suffer any damage," Stockhorst explained in conversation with the GA. She therefore expects clear decisions on what is concretely possible and will be allowed, "because we need planning security", said the President.

Meeting of the representatives from the carnival strongholds

At the beginning of September Stockhorst travels to Düsseldorf to the State Chancellery and meets with the representatives of the carnival strongholds Cologne, Düsseldorf and Aachen. Together with members of the state government, they want to coordinate and determine the regulations and procedures for the next session.

For Ralph Gemmel, the chairman of the Sankt Augustin-Hangelar Ehrengarde (Guard of Honour), the initiative by Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn is exactly what "we as smaller associations have been waiting for. That there will be a decision early on - i.e. now - which will prohibit us from holding our events." Only in this way would the clubs be released from their liability to reimburse the artists. Because the bookings for the carnival events of the coming session have already been firm for about two and a half years. Events, according to Gemmel, would only pay off for the Ehrengarde if the halls were sold out and normal food and drink sales were possible. "Anything else would probably be our death blow."

The entrance fees could become a problem

Peter Klee, commander of the Meckenheim Stadtsoldaten who are planning three major events for 2020/21: the Biwak, the meeting revue and the children's costume festival, describes the situation in a similar way. According to Klee, the Stadtsoldaten will have to pay around 15,000 Euro for hall rent and artists' work. They would have saved these costs if the event had been cancelled. But then, of course, the income from admission fees and the sale of drinks would also be lost. Normally, each visitor pays 22 Euro for admission to the Sitzungsrevue. This price has been calculated for a number of 650 visitors, but if the rules of distance are observed, only 300 visitors will fit in the hall. "The admission would therefore have to be increased to at least 30 Euro," Klee calculates. He doubts whether the jokers in the city would be prepared to pay this price - especially with the ban on singing and „schunkeln“. The Stadtsoldaten are currently talking to the artists who were already signed up a year ago to see if they are willing to postpone their engagements until session 2021/22.

"We would like to see a clear directive from the politicians. Only then will we have legal certainty," says Jens Wilke, literary figure of the oldest Bad Honnef carnival society "Halt Pol". Of course it would hurt a lot if events like the two big meetings of the KG had to be cancelled. But would all artists insist on their fees, "many clubs would be ruined".

Bonn companies support a general cancellation

The demand for a clear and uniform regulation was also unanimously reiterated on Wednesday by representatives of several large Bonn carnival societies. A few weeks ago they had already spoken out in favour of a general cancellation of indoor events by politicians. "It is good that the process is now apparently accelerating," said Wolfgang Orth, commander of the Stadtsoldaten. "The sooner we have planning security, the better," says Thomas Janicke, commander of the City of Bonn's Ehrengarde. After all, the associations are also keen not to leave artists, landlords and technicians out in the rain, says Janicke.

This is also how Roman Wagner, second chairman of Wiesse Müüs, sees it: "It's all about keeping as many people as possible alive, which is why I think individual solutions make sense," says Wagner. However, he has no sympathy at all for the proposal of Christoph Kuckelkorn, President of the Cologne Carnival Festival Committee, for whom carnival sessions with a hygiene concept and mask are an option. "That won't work," says Roman Wagner, "because meetings live from emotions, mood - and closeness.

(Original text: Rüdiger Franz, Hans-Peter Fuss, Claudia Sülzen, Hannah Schmitt and Holger Willcke; Translation: Mareike Graepel)