Germans celebrate Carnival again despite high virus numbers

BERLIN (AP) — Carnival revelers in the western Germany city of Cologne were lining up Thursday to show proof of their COVID-19 vaccinations before they could begin the start of the outdoors celebrations — after a hiatus due to the pandemic last year.

Despite strict pandemic rules, the start of the carnival season was overshadowed by a coronavirus infection of Cologne’s official head of celebrations. Carnival Prince Sven I. announced Tuesday that he had tested positive despite being vaccinated and canceled all public appearances including the traditional reception at Cologne’s city hall, German news agency dpa reported.

On Cologne’s Heumarkt square in the old city, however, thousands of revelers dressed up as clowns, bees, pirates or tigers and seemed unfazed by the country’s spiking virus numbers as they danced tightly to brass band live music.

“We waited so long to celebrate together again,” Cologne Mayor Henriette Reker said on public broadcaster WDR. “Carnival is simply part of our culture.”

Carnival parties took place all over the Rhineland. In Duesseldorf, locals and tourists alike danced to this year’s theme song “Let’s celebrate life,” and in Koblenz they celebrated, drank and sang on the Muenzplatz square.

At the start of the pandemic in early 2020, Germany’s first virus outbreak took place in the western German town of Heinsberg after people celebrated Carnival at an indoors event.

Carnival celebrations in the Rhineland traditionally begin on the 11th of November at 11:11 in the morning and last until Ash Wednesday the following year.

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