The Strasbourg authorities denounced the large attendance observed at the famous Christmas market in the city and warned that health rules and physical distancing are not respected.
Josiane Chevalier, Prefect of Bas-Rhin noted: “I myself have noticed that certain rules that we had put in place as part of the health protocol had not been respected.”
The prefect had previously inspected and approved a health and safety plan before the market opened on November 26. The market is so far expected to remain open until December 26.
Ms Chevalier said many visitors did not abide by the rule of wearing a mask, or consuming food and drink only in dedicated dining areas, which were intended to be accessible only with a valid health pass.
She called on the town hall to make a “bigger communication effort” for the annual event, and said she was considering the “possibility of closing some cabins” in order to downsize.
Ms Chevalier even warned that if more rules were broken, she could end up shutting down the event entirely.
The market was canceled last year due to the pandemic, and many similar Christmas markets in neighboring Germany have also been canceled this year.
The Strasbourg event normally attracts around two million visitors.
“Great information effort”
The fifth wave of Covid is gaining momentum in the Grand Est region, where the level of incidence (cases per 100,000 inhabitants) is now 243.
The first national alert level is 50 and the highest alert level is 200 or higher.
Ms Chevalier said she would write to the mayor of the city and called on the “organizers” of the event to make a “considerable effort to inform people about the wearing of masks” as well as to ban the consumption of food and drinks outside designated areas.
She said: “There is a big, big information effort to be made. You cannot have a Christmas market, which has clearly defined rules, with an organizer who does not do everything to apply the rules. For example, we should add additional catering areas and better flag them.
She also called on exhibitors to do more to help, unlike some who she said let people eat and drink at their booths.
It comes as France introduced new measures to tackle the fifth wave of Covid, including wearing masks, forcing unvaccinated people to take a test in the past 24 hours if they want their health card to remain. valid, and investigating eight mainland suspected cases of the new Omicron variant.
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