Dresden, Saxony- It’s like a domino effect- first Cologne, then Bautzen, then Nuremberg, and now Dresden. Officials had hoped that the Covid-19 infection rate would go down through the partial lockdown (a.k.a. Lockdown Light) that had been in place since November 2nd. There were hygiene plans in place as well as expansion plans to include huts and other events throughout the city center and along the River Elbe. Yet with the infection rates too high and talks of a total lockdown on the horizon, the decision to cancel the Dresden Striezelmarkt became official yesterday.
“The decision was very hard but the partial lockdown did not have the effect of reducing the number of infections before the Advent season as we had hoped,” stated Dresden’s mayor Dirk Hilbert in a statement yesterday. “The high rate in Dresden and in other districts have left us no choice but to make this decision.”
Dresden was supposed to hold its 585th Striezelmarkt this year, which is usually held at the market square, together with other markets throughout the city of 550,000 inhabitants. The market is famous for its Stollenfest (fruitcake festival) on its opening day and features not only its famous product, but also homemade handcrafted items made in the Ore Mountains and Lusatia regions in Saxony with over a million visitors annually.
With an average of 23,400 cases a day in Germany though, the country is currently experiencing a “jet ski effect” where cases drop suddenly over the weekend and increase steadily over the week with the tendency of holding steady, something that is seen as being “good but not good enough.” Officials in Berlin and in each of the country’s 16 states have left the idea of loosening restrictions from the table in light of the next meeting on Monday, but are considering much tougher measures as the cold and flu season is starting to take shape. Chancellor Angela Merkel has hinted that a full lockdown may happen after Christmas and could last through March 2021 or as long as the vaccine is not available for the public. Currently three companies have successfully created and tested their Covid-19 vaccines and are applying for patents which would allow for their availability to the public as soon as they are approved. Europe plans to have 1 billion vaccines available by the middle of next year latest.
The future of the Christmas markets, especially for next year is unclear. Many vendors are fearing the worst and may not make it through a wave bankruptcies that are expected early next year, which could make them a tradition of the past unless the government intervenes with financial aid. But there is a small light appearing in the tunnel which signifies an end in sight. If governments introduce new deals and help small businesses get through the Covid-induced recession that is expected to last at least 2-3 years while acknowledge some fundamental changes that are needed, then we will traditions like the Christmas market be kept alive.
And come Advent 2021, maybe, markets like the Striezel in Dresden will take place, as if Covid never happened.
The Flensburg Files did a series on the Christmas markets in Dresden in 2011, including the Striezelmarkt. To view them and the impressions, click onto the link below:
Christmas market Dresden: 2011 Christmas Market Tour: Dresden Part I General Information