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Europe’s Christmas markets warily open as Covid infections rise

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The holiday tree is towering over the main square in this central German city, the chestnuts and sugared almonds are roasted, and kids are clambering aboard the merry-go-round just like they did before the pandemic.


But a surge in coronavirus infections has left an uneasy feeling hanging over Frankfurt’s Christmas market.





To savour a mug of mulled wine a pleasurable rite of winter in pre-pandemic times masked customers must pass through a one-way entrance to a fenced-off wine hut, stopping at the hand sanitizer station.


Elsewhere, security officers check vaccination certificates before letting customers head for the steaming sausages and kebabs.


Despite the pandemic inconveniences, stall owners selling ornaments, roasted chestnuts and other holiday-themed items in Frankfurt and other European cities are relieved to be open at all for their first Christmas market in two years, especially with new restrictions taking effect in Germany, Austria and other countries as COVID-19 infections hit record highs. Merchants who have opened are hoping for at least a fraction of the pre-pandemic holiday sales that can make or break their businesses.


Others aren’t so lucky. Many of the famous holiday events have been cancelled in Germany and Austria. With the market closures goes the money that tourists would spend in restaurants, hotels and other businesses.


Jens Knauer, who crafts intricate, lighted Christmas-themed silhouettes that people can hang in windows, said his hope was simply that the Frankfurt market stays open as long as possible.


While Christmas is 40 per cent of annual revenue for many retailers and restaurateurs, with me, it’s 100 per cent, Knauer said. If I can stay open for three weeks, I can make it through the year.


Purveyors are on edge after other Christmas markets were abruptly shut down in Germany’s Bavaria region, which includes Nuremberg, home of one of the biggest and best-known markets.


Stunned exhibitors in Dresden had to pack up their goods when authorities in the eastern Saxony region suddenly imposed new restrictions amid soaring infections. Austria’s markets closed as a 10-day lockdown began Monday, with many stall owners hoping they can reopen if it’s not extended.


Markets usually attract elbow-to-elbow crowds to row upon row of ornament and food sellers, foot traffic that spills over into revenue for surrounding hotels and restaurants. This year, the crowds at Frankfurt’s market were vastly thinned out, with the stalls spread out over a larger area.


Heiner Roie, who runs a mulled wine hut in the shape of a wine barrel, said he’s assuming he will see half the business he had in 2019. A shutdown would cause immense financial damage it could lead to complete ruin since we haven’t made any income in two years, and at some point, the financial reserves are used up.


But if people have a little discipline and observe the health measures, I think we’ll manage it, he said.


Next door, Bettina Roie’s guests are greeted with a sign asking them to show their vaccination certificates at her stand serving Swiss raclette, a popular melted cheese dish.


The market “has a good concept because what we need is space, room, to keep some distance from each other,” she said. In contrast to a bricks-and-mortar restaurant, they have their building and their walls, but we can adjust ourselves to the circumstances.


The extended Roie family is a fifth-generation exhibitor business that also operates the merry-go-round on Frankfurt’s central Roemerberg square, where the market opened Monday.


Roie said it was important to reopen so that we can bring the people even during the pandemic a little joy that’s what we do, we bring back joy.


The latest spike in COVID-19 cases has unsettled prospects for Europe’s economic recovery, leading some economists to hedge their expectations for growth in the final months of the year.


Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London, has cut his forecast for the last three months of the year in the 19 countries that use the euro from 0.7 per cent to 0.5 per cent. But he noted that the wave of infections is having less impact across the broad economy because vaccinations have reduced serious illnesses and many companies have learned to adjust.


That is cold comfort to Germany’s DEHOGA restaurant and hotel association, which warned of a hail of cancellations and said members were reporting every second Christmas party or other special event was being called off.


Other European countries where the pandemic isn’t hitting as hard are returning to old ways. The traditional Christmas market in Madrid’s Plaza Mayor, in the heart of the Spanish capital, is slated to open Friday at the size it was before the pandemic.


It will have 104 stalls of nativity figures, decorations and traditional sweets in a country where 89% of those 12 or older are fully vaccinated. Last year, it had half the number of stalls and restricted the number of people allowed in the square. Masks and social distancing will remain mandatory, organizers said.


In Hungary’s capital of Budapest, Christmas markets have been fenced off and visitors must show proof of vaccination to enter.


Gyorgy Nagy, a producer and seller of handmade glazed crockery, said the restrictions initially stirred worries of fewer shoppers. But business has been good so far.


I don’t think the fence is bad, he said. At the beginning, we were scared of it, really scared, but I think it’s fine. … I don’t think it will be a disadvantage.


Markets opening reflects a broader spectrum of loose restrictions in Hungary, even as new COVID-19 cases have exceeded peaks seen during a devastating surge last spring. More infections were confirmed last week than in other week since the pandemic started.


A representative for the Advent Bazilika Christmas market said a number of its measures go beyond government requirements, including that all vendors wear masks and those selling food and drinks be vaccinated.


Bea Lakatos, a seller of fragrant soaps and oils at the Budapest market, said that while sales have been a bit weaker than before the pandemic, I wasn’t expecting so many foreign visitors given the restrictions.


I think things aren’t that bad so far, she said this week. The weekend started particularly strong.


In Vienna, markets were packed last weekend as people sought some Christmas cheer before Austria’s lockdown. Merchants say closures last year and the new restrictions have had disastrous consequences.


The main sales for the whole year are made at the Christmas markets this pause is a huge financial loss, said Laura Brechmann who sold illuminated stars at the Spittelberg market before the lockdown began. We hope things will reopen, but I personally don’t really expect it.


In Austria’s Salzkammergut region, home to ski resorts and the picturesque town of Hallstatt, the tourism industry hopes the national lockdown won’t be extended past Dec. 13 and it can recover some much-needed revenue.


Last winter’s extended lockdowns cost the tourism board alone 1 million euros ($1.12 million) just in nightly tourist tax fees during that period not to mention the huge financial losses sustained by hotels, restaurants and ski resorts.


Overall, I do think that if things open up again before Christmas, we can save the winter season, said Christian Schirlbauer, head of tourism for the Dachstein-Salzkammergut region. But it will depend on whether or not the case numbers go down.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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The Plot In You Announce Debut New Zealand Shows w/ ERRA

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Ohio’s The Plot In You are heading our way in spring 2022 for two massive North Island shows. Now based in Miami, the four piece are basking in the alt-rock / hardcore glow of their fifth studio album Swan Song, which dropped in September this year to glowing reviews, and was written as an exercise in catharsis after “years of negativity, soured friendships, disappointment, and mistakes”. With a mammoth stint of worldwide touring already well underway, The Plot In You will be a well oiled machine when they hit our shores for the first time next September, joined by fellow US metalcore fiends ERRA at both their Tāmaki Makaurau and Pōneke shows. As one of the first overseas acts to announce a New Zealand tour since recent international travel news, you might want to act fast on tickets – pre sales go live tomorrow morning, with early birds and general tickets to be released in early December. Get the full run down below…

The Plot In You ‘Swan Song’ Tour w/ ERRA

Tuesday 27th September – Neck Of The Woods, Auckland
Wednesday 28th September – Valhalla, Wellington
General On-Sale available HERE via UTR from 10am NZST, Friday 3rd December 

Spotify presale available from 9am NZST, Tuesday 30th November
Fan Early Bird Presale available HERE from 5pm NZST, Wednesday 1st December

From new album Swan Song, watch The Plot In You’s cinematic clip for ‘Face Me’…


Press release:

Ohio quartet THE PLOT IN YOU announce the Swan Song Australian and New Zealand tour which will hit all capital cities in September 2022. Their debut national headline tour will be joined by five-piece progressive metalcore heavyweights and very special guests, ERRA.

After racking up over 100 million streams and receiving praise from Billboard, Rock Sound, Alternative Press, and more, THE PLOT IN YOU have crafted music that addresses the end of various things and situations in life.

In September, THE PLOT IN YOU released their fifth full-length album, Swan Song. Sonically and spiritually, Swan Song stares down at years of negativity, soured friendships, disappointment, and mistakes and flush it all away in the wake of hammering distortion, towering melodies, cinematic production, and unapologetically cathartic lyrics.

The record received glowing reviews globally. With Hysteria Magazine saying, “In a triumphant fashion, Swan Song may well be the group’s most audacious; genre bending and diverse album to date.” And Wall Of Sound said, “If Swan Song was indeed The Plot In You’s final album, then it would see the four-piece bowing out on a high, at both their popular and creative peak.”

THE PLOT IN YOU’s last visit to our shows saw them supporting Polaris in 2018 for the sold out national ‘The Mortal Coil Tour’ and had critics raving about their flawless live show.

Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, ERRA’s namesake comes from Akkadian mythology and represents mayhem. Their technical sound and writing is taken by influences from well-respected groups like Misery Signals, Born of Osiris and Saosin. They thrive on being creative and showcasing their talent through their intense live performances and offering their refreshing sound. Their 2020 self-titled album saw them receiving high praise from fans and music critics alike.

The Swan Song tour is one tour you won’t want to miss as it graces Australian shores in September. Grab a ticket while you can!

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The Equalizer season 2 episode 8 return date for Queen Latifah, cast

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The EqualizerFollowing tonight’s new episode, are you eager to get The Equalizer season 2 episode 8 return date? What about a good sense of what could be coming next?

There are a few different things that we should get into here, but let’s begin by sharing some of the unfortunate news: All signs point to you waiting a good while to see the series back on the air. Because of various holiday-related programs, we know that CBS is set up with programming from now until Christmas Day and no more episodes of the Queen Latifah series are on the schedule. It’s unlikely that they would air an episode in between Christmas and New Year’s, so the earliest we would expect to see the show back is in early January.

What will the writers bring to the table at that point? More than likely, there are a few different things that they will circle for Robyn McCall. At the forefront of all of them will be how she continues to balance out her job and trying to still have some semblance of a normal life. Is it possible of her to retain any anonymity? Also, what sort of clients will require her services? We’re sure there will be some external pressure for the writers to want to accelerate the stakes to some degree, but we don’t think that creating bigger action sequences is the most feasible way forward. Instead, we imagine that we’ll get a handful of character-focused stories that enable us to better understand this ensemble. While McCall is and should always be the primary focus, we don’t want to pretend as though she’s the only part of the show.

Expect at least two or three new The Equalizer episodes to air in January; then, there could be another hiatus brought on by awards shows, the NFL, and also the Olympics. In general, the schedule is going to be a little bit weird until March.

Related – Be sure to get some more news when it comes to The Equalizer right now

What do you most want to see when it comes to The Equalizer season 2 episode 8?

Be sure to share right now in the comments! Once you do just that, stick around — there are other updates coming and we don’t want you to miss them. (Photo: CBS.)


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Halo Infinite PS4 and Switch Release Date: Will it come to Sony and Nintendo consoles?

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Fans are holding out hope that Halo Infinite will come to the PS4 or Switch. If this came to fruition, the release date would, of course, be after the game launches on PC and Xbox, but is there any chance of that happening? We’ll take a look at what the chances are for Halo Infinite to release on a PlayStation or Nintendo console.

Will Halo Infinite get a PS4 release date?

Halo Infinite PS4 Switch release date Nintendo Sony

The chances of Halo Infinite releasing on PS4 or PS5 are only infinitesimally larger than zero. Halo’s developer, 343 Industries, is a first-party Microsoft development studio, and it’s one of Xbox’s most valuable properties. Given that Microsoft sees Sony as its direct rival, porting Halo Infinite to PS4 or PS5 would be an incredibly poor business decision.

Halo will never come to any platform other than PC and Xbox as long as Microsoft owns 343 Industries. Even if 343 Industries ever split off to form an independent studio as Bungie did, Microsoft would still retain the Halo IP.

Will Halo come to Nintendo Switch?

The likelihood of Halo Infinite getting a Nintendo Switch release date is about as poor as it coming to PlayStation. However, even though it might not get a direct port, there is a chance that users could eventually play it on Switch. In fact, hacked Switches can already do so.

Since the Switch OS is Android-based, the Xbox Cloud Gaming (formerly Project xCloud) app works just fine. Users have reported that after installing a custom version of Android on a hacked Switch, they could install the app and play with no issues. Microsoft would almost certainly release an official Xbox Cloud Gaming app for Switch, given a chance. However, Nintendo has been reticent to release any apps for the console, and it’s still missing several that even the 3DS and Wii U had.

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