Covid: Are Christmas Markets Too Dangerous During a Pandemic?

By Cécile D. Photos by My B. Posted on Dec 4, 2021 at 2:33 pm

Are Christmas markets sources of contamination by Covid-19? As the fifth epidemic wave hits France in full force, some doctors are warning the population against these massive gathering places.

Do Christmas markets jeopardize the end of the year celebrations? The government has revised its copy: on November 25, Olivier Véran imposed new health rules to deal with the fifth epidemic wave. The Minister of Health had announced, in particular, that the health pass would be necessary to access the Christmas markets, and that the use of a mask outdoors would be mandatory again, in places open to the public, such as these markets.

These seasonal fairs draw large crowds, especially in certain cities known for their end-of-the-year events. Could the government end up simply banning the holding of these Christmas markets, deemed too dangerous during a pandemic?

Despite the sanitary protocols in place, the French find it difficult to respect the barrier gestures in these places that attract many people.

The city of Strasbourg, known for its Christmas market, is particularly prominent, despite the directives recalled by the prefect of Bas-Rhin Josiane Chevalier. “From a medical point of view, what can I say [c’est que] When we see the videos that circulate on the networks, it is clear that physical distancing is not respected, that people do not have masks, not even outside the hours they are eating ”, laments Emmanuel Andrés, president of the Medical Commission of the Establishment. of the University Hospitals of Strasbourg (HUS), compared to AFP.

Should we then close these markets to avoid the appearance of clusters, a few weeks before the Christmas holidays? Emmanuel Andrés believes that this issue is currently “eminently political. “

After two very difficult years due to the pandemic, traders are not considering canceling these markets. At BFMTV, the managing director of the Vitrines de Strasbourg merchants association, Pierre Bardet, admits that there have been “detours”, but insists on the importance of maintaining these markets.

“We implement drastic measures starting this Friday morning. The stands are wider, the corridors have been bent and now you need a health pass to enter the Christmas market. In the streets it is essential to wear the mask. It would be an economic disaster to close this Christmas market. We must all get involved collectively to save it and take care of people’s health, “he says.

The epidemic wave and the appearance of the omicron variant may concern many experts, but the situation is not as dire as it seems. “We must not panic. Compared to last year, we have much more important weapons, such as vaccination. We have significant figures, even if we have to strain on the booster dose. We have to convince the unvaccinated, because they constitute the largest mass of people in intensive care: 80% of our patients are not vaccinated ”, explains Jean-Louis Teboul, head of intensive medicine-intensive care at the Bicêtre hospital (Val-de Marne).

“With the vaccination, the booster dose and the barrier gestures, we are still well armed,” says the doctor.

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