New Year’s Eve at Brandenburg Gate Cancelled

Photo by Johannes Plenio on Pexels.com

Silvesterparty at Brandenburg Gate attracts up to 10,000 per year. Cancelled due to Corona.

BERLIN- Fears of 2020 becoming a “wipe-out” year with all the key events being cancelled have become real. The last event of the year has been officially been called off due to Covid-19. The City of Berlin decided yesterday to cancel the traditional New Year’s Eve Celebrations at Brandenburg Gate. The event attracts as many as 10,000 visitors and extends from Brandenburg Gate along the Strasse des 18. Mai to the Victory Column (Siegessäule) and features multiple concerts by celebrities from Germany, Europe, the US and the rest of the world. It’s capped off with fireworks to ring in the New Year. The event has taken place since 1990 using Brandenburg Gate as the backdrop because of its symbol of freedom and unity.

In a statement to the newspaper Berliner Morgenpost, Ramona Pop, Berlin’s City of Commerce Minister stated that there would be neither large-scale events nor family gatherings this year, otherwise the country could experience another wave by February. The plan to cancel the event comes at no surprise as the Berlin Senate had already approved a resolution banning public events that hosts more than 100 people on October 28th and has been in place ever since.

Already talks are underway to introduce stricter measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, even though the number of cases daily have decreased in the last three days. The number of cases as of this post has been at 10,864. Yet for the most part, Germany is experiencing a “jet-ski” effect where the number of daily cases increase during the week then drop off moderately over the weekend. In the past three weeks, cases have exceeded 22,000 per day. Currently, 306,000 people have been infected with 600,000 having recovered. At present, a total of 923,000 total infections have been recorded with the sobering goal of 1 million cases expected to be reached by the end of this year.

On the table and most likely to be approved include the extension of the current lockdown-light measures that had been in place since November 2nd to December 20th but allow for families to celebrate during the Christmas season. Chancellor Angela Merkel has hinted at a full lockdown as we enter 2021 and possibly lasting until the end of March. Half-group classes in schools and a week-early start in the Christmas break are also being considered. At the center of the debate is the banning of the sale and use of fireworks to alleviate the stress on the law enforcement and medical sectors, as there are many pros and cons to that measure.

The cancellation of the New Year’s Eve party in Berlin, which will most likely follow in other German cities, has put a cap on 2020 as the year of the wipe-out. It started with a Spring Lockdown and no Easter services or celebrations, followed by restricted travel in the summer, resulting in overcrowded beaches along the Baltic and North Sea coasts. Christmas markets are all but cancelled this year, and concerns are growing as to when life will finally return to normal for much of the population. With vaccinations expected in the next year, it may not be until the middle to end of 2022 when the virus passes and people can continue with the lives they had before the first lockdown. This means a continuation of social distancing, sporting events in empty stadiums, wearing masks and on the one hand, cancelling markets and festivals but on the other hand the restriction of the number of people in a public event.

Virtual concerts and events may also be the new norm, which could be a consolation for the New Year’s Eve Celebrations in Berlin this year: The concerts will go on, but in virtual form to allow the public to watch the events from their own TV. While this may be a one-off special, it will not influence the one tradition many people on New Year’s Eve watch every year: Dinner for One.