Carnival can't be banned, mayors say; Decision in two weeks
Carnival cannot be banned. Especially because the catering industry is open, said mayor Hubert Bruls of Nijmegen before meeting with Justice Minister Dilan Yesilgöz about it. "Carnival has many faces. People gather at home or on the street, and you don't need a permit for that," he said. The mayors and Minister will meet again in two weeks to decide how carnival will be celebrated. "It is too early to make a decision now," Yesilgöz said after the meeting.
The mayors worry that enforcing the coronavirus rules will be difficult during carnival, especially social distancing. "It is a complicated situation," said Antoin Scholten of Venlo. "In an indoor location full of music, people with a beer in hand do not stay 1.5 meters apart in their place," said Bruls. The mayors are still looking at the possibilities and impossibilities. They at least want to regulate the flow into cafes and bars. "We must try to discourage the large influx," said Bruls, also the head of the Security Council.
Annemarie Penn te Stake of Maastricht said that she would "do her best," but she "cannot live up to the coronavirus measures. "We'll walk around, speak to and give warnings, but I will not send riot police to the Vrijthof if it is full of people." She mainly hopes that the number of infections will have decreased drastically by February 15 so that more will be possible.
We have to be creative," said Jack Mikkers of Den Bosch. His colleague John Jorritsma holds his breath. "I'm afraid this year will be a disappointment for everyone who has a carnival heart.
The mayors and Yesilgöz will meet again in two weeks to discuss what Carnival will look like. "Carnival is here, I understand. Now we have to see how that can be celebrated under the applicable coronavirus measures. One thing is clear: it will not be as they are used to. Unfortunately, people also have to make sacrifices," the Minister said.
The mayors will get together various scenarios in consultation with the carnival associations and local entrepreneurs in the coming weeks. "The burning issue is the 1.5 meters. How should you deal with this?" Bruls wondered aloud. "Will there be an exemption? Will the mayors tolerate it? Or will it become stricter because the infection figures are rising?" Carnival cannot be a staged event, he said. "That will not work."
The mayors are also looking at regulating excessive traffic to squares and bars and discouraging carnival tourism. The intention is not that people flock to the south because they feel like a party. The folk festival attracts a large crowd from its own region alone.
They will make joint agreements with minor differences. "There are many variations of carnival in the country," explained Bruls. Limburg, Noord-Brabant, and the east of the country all have their own customs.
According to Mikkers, one thing is certain: the country is still in a crisis. "We have to celebrate carnival this year with reflection."
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.