ROTHENBURG OB DER TAUBER, Germany (Reuters) - Germany’s tightened lockdown measures have eliminated one remnant of seasonal frivolity: “Gluehwein” or mulled wine, a staple of Christmas markets usually served in steaming mugs on cold days in town squares round the nation.
A blanket outdoor alcohol ban, starting mid-week, was announced on Sunday among measures to curb the coronavirus second wave.
Offenders will be fined.
While Germany’s famed Christmas markets had already largely been forbidden this year, many people were still able to get their fill of Gluehwein, dropping masks to imbibe in temporary open-air stands popping up instead.
In the medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, for example, Gluehwein has in recent days been among the few offerings for sale around Market Square and its snow-capped, timber-framed buildings. Pedestrians, however, were scarce while signs demanding masks were peppered on the centuries-old walls.
Some cities had already restricted outdoor drinking, and a backlash grew. On Wednesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament that mulled wine stands were not compatible with the COVID-19 measures.
“There’s neither social distancing nor the wearing of masks when drinking Gluehwein,” said Thomas Boehle, an official in Munich.
Christoph Becker, head of a hospitality sector group in Cologne, has filed a lawsuit to appeal against the ban.
“Just because some drivers don’t stick to the speed limit doesn’t mean that driving is forbidden,” he said.
Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne