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As the number of COVID cases increases, the European Christmas market will open cautiously | World

DAVID McHUGH, EMILY SCHULTHEIS, JUSTIN SPIKE AP communication

Frankfurt, Germany (AP) — A holiday tree towers over the main square of this central German city, roasted chestnuts and sugared almonds, and children climb on the Riding a merry-go-round as before. Pandemic.. However, Rapid increase in coronavirus infections I’m worried about the Christmas market in Frankfurt.

To taste a mug of Glühwein, a simple pre-pandemic winter ritual, masked customers must pass through a one-way entrance to a fenced wine hut and stop at a hand sanitizer station. It will not be. Elsewhere, security guards check the vaccination certificate before directing the customer to steamed sausages or kebabs.

Despite the pandemic inconvenience, stall owners selling ornaments, roasted chestnuts and other holiday-themed items in Frankfurt and other European cities are particularly new, the first Christmas market in two years. I am relieved to open at all. Restrictions will take effect In Germany, Austria and other countries COVID-19 infection Record high. Opened merchants want at least some of their pre-pandemic holiday sales to be successful or unsuccessful in their business.

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Others are not so lucky. Many of the famous holiday events have been canceled in Germany and Austria. With the closure of the market, the money that tourists will spend on restaurants, hotels and other businesses goes.

Jens Nauer, who creates a complex, bright Christmas-themed silhouette that people can hang on windows, said he simply wanted the Frankfurt market to “keep open for as long as possible.”

For many retailers and restaurant owners, Christmas is 40% of their annual revenue, but “100% for me,” Knauer said. “If you stay open for three weeks, you can achieve that throughout the year.”

Traders are at stake after the sudden closure of other Christmas markets in the Bavarian region of Germany, including Nuremberg, one of the largest and most famous markets. Dresden’s stunned exhibitors had to pack their goods when authorities in eastern Saxony suddenly imposed new restrictions amid a surge in infection. The Austrian market was closed on Monday after a 10-day blockade began, and many stall owners wanted to be able to reopen if not extended.

Markets usually attract elbow-to-elbow crowds to rows of foot traffic that spill over into the revenue of ornaments and food sellers, as well as surrounding hotels and restaurants. This year, the market in Frankfurt has been significantly less crowded and the food stalls have expanded to a larger area.

Heiner Royer, who runs a wine barrel-shaped Glühwein hut, said he expects to see half of the 2019 business. I had income in two years, and at some point my reserves were exhausted. “

But if people have a little discipline and observe health measures, “I think we manage it,” he said.

A guest at Bettina Roie next door will be greeted by a sign asking her to present her vaccination certificate at her stand, which serves Swiss raclette, a popular melted cheese dish.

The market “has a good concept because we need space and rooms to keep some distance from each other,” she said. “In contrast to a physical restaurant, there are buildings and walls, but you can adjust them to suit your situation.”

The expanded Royer family is a fifth-generation exhibitor who also operates a merry-go-round in Frankfurt’s Central Romerberg Square, where the market opened on Monday.

“It was important to resume so that we could bring a little joy to people during the pandemic. That’s our job and we’re regaining joy,” Roie said.

The recent surge in COVID-19 cases has destabilized Europe’s economic recovery outlook, and some economists have begun to hedge expectations for growth in the last few months of the year.

Holger Schmiding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London, has lowered its forecast for the last three months of the year in 19 countries that use the euro from 0.7% to 0.5%. However, he said the wave of infections has less impact on the economy as a whole, as vaccination has learned to reduce serious illnesses and adapt for many companies.

This is a cold comfort for the German DEHOGA Restaurant and Hotel Association, which warns of “hail of cancellation” and reports that members have canceled every two Christmas parties and other special events.

Other European countries where the pandemic is less serious are back in the old way. The traditional Christmas market on Plaza Mayor in Madrid, in the heart of the Spanish capital, will open on Friday on a pre-pandemic scale.

In a country where 89% of people over the age of 12 are fully vaccinated, there are 104 nativity stalls, ornaments and traditional sweets stalls. Last year, the number of food stalls was halved, limiting the number of people who could enter the square. According to the organizers, masks and social distance will continue to be mandatory.

In Budapest, the capital of Hungary, the Christmas market is closed and visitors are required to show proof of vaccination.

Gyorgy Nagy, a producer and seller of handmade glossy tableware, said the restrictions initially aroused concerns about the low number of shoppers. But so far the business is doing well.

“I don’t think the fence is bad,” he said. “I was scared at first, I was really scared, but I think it’s okay …. I don’t think it would be a disadvantage.”

The market opening reflects the wide range of loose regulations in Hungary, but the new COVID-19 cases have surpassed the peak seen during the catastrophic surge last spring. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more infections have been confirmed last week than in other weeks.

Representatives of the Advent Basilica Christmas market said many of the measures, such as all vendors wearing masks and vaccination of vendors selling food and drink, exceed government requirements.

Bee Lacatos, who sells scented soaps and oils in the Budapest market, said, although sales were a little weaker than before the pandemic, “I didn’t expect that there would be so many foreign tourists due to restrictions. “.

“I don’t think the situation is so bad so far,” she said this week. “The weekend started particularly powerfully.”

In Vienna, the market was full last weekend as people sought Christmas cheers before the Austrian blockade. Merchants say the closure and new restrictions last year had disastrous consequences.

“The main sales for the whole year are at the Christmas markets. This suspension is a huge financial loss,” said Laura Brechmann, who sold the illuminated stars at the Spitterberg market before the blockade began. .. “We want things to come back, but I personally don’t really expect it.”

In the Salzkammergut region of Austria, where ski resorts and the picturesque town of Hallstatt are located, the tourism industry hopes that the country’s blockade will not be extended beyond December 13 and will be able to regain the coveted income. I am.

The extended lockdown last winter cost € 1 million ($ 1.12 million) for the Tourism Board alone, not to mention the huge financial losses suffered by hotels, restaurants and ski resorts during the night’s tourism tax. It cost me.

Christian Sylvauer, Head of Tourism in the Dachstein-Salzkammergut region, said: “But it depends on whether the number of cases decreases.”

Emily Schultais reported from Vienna and Justin Spike from Budapest, Hungary. Aritz Parra contributed this report from Madrid.

Follow AP’s pandemic coverage https://apnews.com/hub/coronavirus-pandemic

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

As the number of COVID cases increases, the European Christmas market will open cautiously | World

Source link As the number of COVID cases increases, the European Christmas market will open cautiously | World

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