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Christmas market in Siegburg: Organizers develop hygiene plan for medieval market

Christmas market in Siegburg : Organizers develop hygiene plan for medieval market

The City of Siegburg doesn’t want to decide whether it will need to cancel the medieval Christmas market until the end of October. But the big St. Martin's procession through the city center will not take place because of the corona pandemic.

It is a decision that was not easy for Mayor Franz Huhn. For years he has accompanied thousands of children and their lanterns on the big procession through the city center of Siegburg as St. Martin. "Under the current conditions, however, it simply cannot be organized," he said. For this reason, the city's crisis management team decided on Wednesday to cancel the big St. Martin's procession in Siegburg on November 10 because of the corona pandemic.

A decision on the medieval market at Christmas time has been postponed. Huhn made this announcement on Thursday at a press conference in the town hall. He said that the city wanted to wait for the new corona regulations expected at the end of October.

"It would be premature and wrong to cancel the market already now," Huhn emphasized. This is owed to the organizers after more than 30 years of loyalty. "Some of the vendors have only been able to attend six of the 120 events booked this year," the mayor said, alluding to their existential struggles. He indicated that the city was well aware of the problem.

Hygiene plan is in the works

"But it is also certain that there will be no market as usual," Huhn made clear. The organizers are currently in the process of developing a hygiene plan that would allow the tradition of the medieval market to proceed despite the pandemic. It would run from Saturday, November 28, to Tuesday, December 22.

"The market must be self-contained, have a separate entrance and exit and a one-way street system," Huhn explained the basic principle. In regard to the social distancing regulations, only a limited number of people would be admitted at the same time.

Mulled wine stalls should be located outside the market

"Everyone is aware that a mulled wine stand cannot function like usual," says Huhn. It would have to be located outside (the market) and function according to the rules that apply to the restaurant business. But one has to wait and see what the new corona regulations look like and then decide.

Meanwhile, District Administrator Sebastian Schuster appeared surprised by the news at the corona press conference of the Rhine-Sieg district: "When we discussed it, Mayor Huhn and I actually agreed that the Christmas market could not take place," said Schuster. "In my opinion, such a market does not fit into the current situation. But that is a decision of the City of Siegburg."

Protecting the health of the public is the first priority, stressed Franz Huhn. Should the Siegburg Medieval Market take place, the public order office will check whether all the requirements of a hygiene plan are being met. "We are not satisfied only with what’s written on paper", said Huhn. "If it doesn’t work, the market would have to be closed again."

Up to 100,000 visitors

The city and the organizers also have to consider that queues might form in front of the entrance. "Of course, we expect that more visitors from other cities will come to Siegburg when a market is held here and not elsewhere," Huhn said. Otherwise, up to 100,000 visitors would normally come to the market during Advent. "I fully understand that people want to get out again," said Huhn. That's why the city wants to try to offer them an opportunity with the medieval market.

For the big St. Martin's procession, on the other hand, he felt that a cancellation was inevitable. "Children from elementary schools, the two grammar schools, secondary schools, and also parents with their small children would be taking part," explained Huhn. This would make it almost impossible to avoid mixing different groups. Keeping distances is barely possible just setting up at the market, as is a one-way street regulation.

"Besides that, no singing would be allowed and no band would be allowed to play", said Huhn. A quiet Martin's procession, but with a mask, was unimaginable for him. It was suggested that smaller St. Martin’s processions be organized in the local districts, with a hygiene plan still required.

Orig. text: Nadine Quadt

Translation: ck