Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, city mayor Henriette Reker said that the corona pandemic had made it impossible to celebrate the traditional start of the new carnival season.
“We will issue a ban on alcohol consumption and a ban on selling alcohol outside of restaurants on November 11th for the entire day and in the entire city area, in addition to the already existing contact restrictions and closing times,” Reker confirmed.
Reker appealed to all citizens at a press conference in the Historical Town Hall: “We all have to miss out on celebrating on November 11th,” she said. “This time there will be no celebrating, this time there will be no singing, this time there will be no dancing.”
“This year there will be no November 11th celebrations. This year it will just be a day in the calendar like any other day.”
“Please stay at home, everyone,” the mayor appealed to the people of Cologne. “Do not celebrate at home either.”
The rules appear to leave a loophole, meaning private parties could still take place. A spokesperson later clarified that the ban on alcohol refers to public spaces, not to private homes.
Reker also called on people who normally travel to Cologne from other regions to also stay away this time.
Carnival president Christoph Kuckelkorn said that carnival revellers were “deeply sad” about the fact that this time they couldn't bring any colour into the gloomy November.
But he added that “at the same time we are also relieved that we are simply celebrating this day in peace and quiet, remembering how it used to be and looking forward to having it again soon”.
Carnival has been an integral part of life in Cologne and many other Catholic cities since the Middle Ages. It is traditionally a time for satire and tomfoolery, when locals dress up as Jecken (fools) and blow a raspberry at the establishment.
Cologne’s carnival is the biggest in Germany. Millions of people normally turn out on the city’s street during the Rosenmontag parade in late winter.
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