Coronavirus: How will Christmas markets look in Austria this year?

Christmas markets have been given the go ahead in some parts of the country pursuant to strict rules. Here’s what to expect when you head out for a Glühwein this December.

Coronavirus: How will Christmas markets look in Austria this year?
Photo: AFP

This article is out of date. As of December 2nd, Christmas markets in Austria in 2020 are banned. 

Despite earlier indications that the markets would be closed – or even worse, would be restricted from selling alcoholic drinks like Glühwein – the Vienna Chamber of Commerce on Thursday assured patrons that the markets would go ahead – and that hot wine would be available. 

Christmas markets in Innsbruck are also set to go ahead, while authorities in Graz are hoping to find a way to open this year

But while the markets will go ahead – at least in some parts of the country – they’ll do so subject to a strict set of rules. 

How will Christmas markets look this year in Austria? 

According to the hygiene plan, all staff and visitors to the market must wear masks at all times, other than when eating and drinking. 

Hand sanitiser will be freely distributed throughout the markets. 

The hygiene and protection plan submitted by authorities to host the Christmas market at Vienna’s Rathausplatz this year has a number of significant changes that patrons should be aware of. 

As reported in Austria’s Kurier news site, this includes a restriction on attendees, video surveillance and traffic lights at the entrance to the markets. 

Vienna’s Rathausplatz will have fewer stands – with last year’s 150 reduced to 120 in 2020. This has been done to make more space for patrons at the markets. 

Each stand will be behind plexiglas – which will be installed at the cost of the city. 

Entry to the market will be restricted to a lower number of visitors than in previous years. 

This will be regulated at the entrances to the markets, where ‘traffic lights’ have been installed. These will flash green when patrons can enter the market, but will turn red when the market is full. 

These lights will be made visible online. 

In order to preserve one-metre of distance between guests, markings will be installed on the grounds.

The market will have designated ‘consumption zones’ where people can eat and drink. These ‘zones’ will be separated from the rest of the market. 

Staff at the markets – dressed in angel wings – will roam the grounds to inform attendees about the measures and to encourage compliance. This will be in addition to a larger security presence. 

In addition, the Christmas market will be overseen with video cameras. 

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Lebkuchen: Gingerbread is Germany’s favourite Christmas treat in 2020

Not chocolate, not Spekulatius - Gingerbread is officially Germany’s favourite Christmas treat, according to a new study.

Lebkuchen: Gingerbread is Germany’s favourite Christmas treat in 2020
Photo: DPA

Anyone who has spent any time in Germany at Christmas would know that sweets, baked treats and chocolates are a central component of the celebrations. 

But in the not-so-official Christmas rankings of the favourite sweet staple, gingerbread has come out on top, according to a study completed by German opinion researcher YouGov on behalf of the German Press Agency. 

Gingerbread took out top spot with 54 percent support, followed by spiced shortbread biscuit Spekulatius (Speculaas) with 50 percent. 

Chocolate Santa Clauses came in third at 41 percent, followed by Stollen (39 percent) and cinnamon stars (33 percent). 

Gingerbread, known as Lebkuchen (life cake) in German, has experienced somewhat of a resurgence in recent years. 

In 2013, some were concerned that the traditional baked cake had lost its lustre, after a sharp decline in sales

The rebound in popularity shows however that there still is life in the old cake, after all. 

Yougov opinion research institute surveyed almost 2,100 people aged 18 and over a few days before Christmas.