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Berlin: Christmas Vacations Prolonged, Christmas Markets in Preparation

The closer Berlin inches forward towards the holidays, the more clarity there is about what they will look like. Schoolkids just got an additional day of vacations. Complicated rules will apply at the German capital’s Christmas markets.

Berlin, October 28th, 2021 (The Berlin Spectator) — Eight weeks before Christmas, Berlin’s schoolkids just got their first present. It is an additional day of vacations on December 23rd, 2021. The city state’s Education Senator Sandra Scheeres announced the good news. Officially, the Christmas vacations commence on Christmas Eve this year, which is December 24th. The additional day is supposed to ease the pressure on families and individuals who need to travel in order to be able to be with their loved ones for the holidays.

Short Holidays

Since some parents need to work on December 23rd, kids from grades 1 to 6 will be cared for at the German capital’s schools, meaning those who need to go can do so. Instead of attending classes, they will probably play all day long. After the vacations, the first day of school is January 3rd, 2022. This year, the Christmas holidays are short, also because both Christmas Days and New Year’s Eve fall on weekends.

One of the activities Germans engage in a lot before Christmas is visiting Christmas markets. For the second time, the Corona pandemic is making things difficult, since the infection numbers are skyrocketing again. Because of the restrictions the Senate put in place, at least one of the nicest Christmas markets the city usually has, the one at Charlottenburg Palace, was cancelled. It has not taken place since 2019.

Two Options

Germany would not be Germany if the rules were not complicated. At Christmas markets in Berlin, masks will have to be worn, unless the organizers declare that ‘2G’ rules apply at their market. This means that only vaccinated and cured persons may enter. The advantage: Nobody needs to wear masks or keep their distance. How well this works was visible at Berlin’s Berghain club the other day, when a Corona outbreak was registered in spite of the ‘2G’ rule.

Everyone has the right to visit Christmas markets at which the ‘2G’ rule does not apply. But in these cases masks need to be worn at all times. Here, all visitors need to register and leave their contact data. At those open Christmas markets, the capacity may not exceed 50 percent, meaning less people may visit them at the same time, compared to pre-Corona times. How exactly the authorities will enforce this rule, if at all, is unclear because there is no official limit in regard to the number of visitors.

Making Sense

Does it get even more complicated? Yes. Welcome to Germany. So, the organizers get to pick either the open model (masks, distance and documentation) or ‘2G’ rules (vaccinated or cured visitors only). But what about ‘3G’ rules, which give access to vaccinated, cured and tested persons? They are not an option at Berlin’s Christmas markets. There is another ‘but’ though. Ready for it? But, things look different at restaurants on the premises of Christmas markets. Here, the owners can pick either the ‘2G’ or the ‘3G’ rule. This makes perfect sense, doesn’t it?

The organizers of some of Berlin’s Christmas markets have already decided which approach they will be taking. One of the largest ones takes places at Red City Hall. Another nice market is the one at Gendarmenmarkt. In both cases, ‘2G’ rules will apply. Some Christmas market organizers are still thinking. There is time, because regular Christmas markets open on or around November 22nd. In addition, there are Christmas markets which are not really Christmas markets, but pre-Christmas markets. Those begin a few weeks earlier. In late November, they become real Christmas markets. One of those is ‘Winterwelt’ at Potsdamer Platz. It commences as soon as tomorrow.

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