As Germany’s COVID-19 cases soared and reached a new high on Thursday (November 11), the country’s carnival season kicked off in Cologne at 11:11 a.m. (1011 GMT), this year under strict coronavirus restriction measures.
Yet, Cologne’s revellers could not completely escape the pandemic during celebrations of the “fifth or silly season” after the carnival’s “prince” tested positive for the virus and was forced to skip the event for the second year running.
Last year, Germany was in the middle of a COVID-19 lockdown and all mass events such as street carnivals were cancelled.
This year, revellers said they felt safe.
“The controls are so intense, it’s so great, we just feel safe here,” said reveller Martina from Cologne. And carnival reveller Volker added “let’s make the best of it.”
Thursday’s start into the carnival season was overshadowed by news that the designated so called prince for Cologne carnival, Sven Oleff, had tested positive for COVID-19 the previous day.
Oleff is fully vaccinated, according to the festival committee which added he showed no symptoms and feels well.
Carnival is celebrated in Germany’s predominantly Catholic west and south, with much swaying to traditional ballads and brass bands, masses of people attending alcohol-laden parties and costume parades
Carnival culminates in February with processions on Rose Monday and Shrove Tuesday, the last day before Lent — the fasting period which precedes Easter.