On the 5th of May the WHO declared that Covid-19 is no longer a global health emergency. As a consequence, the town of Speyer has removed the Corona information pages from the startpage of their website. Therefore Corona is also officially not an issue anymore in Speyer
The incidence has gone down to 11.9 in the current week, which confirms the downward tendency. Sometimes you can still see masks at events, mostly with older people.
On the Saturday before the 1st of May the guild-pole event took place. This tree now stands all year round in the Maximilianstrasse and is celebrated with a parade of the guilds and a small ceremony.
The number of infections has been going down for a while, the actual incidence is at 37.6. Corona is also no longer a topic in the media. There are very few places now where masks are mandatory
On Maundy Thursday the Spring Fair starts in Speyer. It looks like 2023 will be a normal year again in Speyer.
The Corona numbers have been going down for a while, this is why the federal country of Rhineland-Palatinate now issues the new numbers only once a week. The actual incidence in Speyer is at 81.1, for the whole of Rhineland-Palatinate at 99.8. However, at the moment the numbers are on a slow but steady rise again.
The indidence is currently at 148, which is about the same as mid-December. But before Christmas it went up to over 250, whereas after the new year it dropped down to 85. Therefore there is no clear trend to be seen.
On Epiphany day (Jan 6th) there were the ususal masses of people in Speyer, as there is a holiday on the other side of the Rhine in Baden-Wuerttemberg. The new year's market was quite busy again. Hardly any masks could be seen.
The local health authorities are working again, at the moment the incidence in Speyer is at 142, and the chart looks rather flat, meaning that it doesn't change much.
There are hardly any restrictions left, and the Christmas Market has lots of visitors again.
If you look at the official numbers of infections you will find that the incidence in Speyer is currently at zero, meaning that it looks like there have been no infections in the last 7 days. It is more correct to say that the health authority has not reported any.
The reason for these seemingly good numbers is a hacker attack on the network of health authorties which has knocked out their systems. So there are no reliable numbers at the moment.
With the start of autumn the Corona numbers have risen again, but the dreaded big wave did not turn out as bad as expected. At the moment the numbers are actually sinking, which makes a prediction rather difficult. The incidence in Speyer is currently at 635.
Here in Speyer the Autumn Fair is in full swing, and also because of the good weather there are lots of visitors.
Now the weekly market has been put back in town again, since yesterday it is held on the traditional Koenigsplatz. Of course it is a lot more crammed there, so it might be that sometime it is shifted back to the Festplatz.
At the moment the incidence in Speyer is around 220. But nobody really cares anymore for that. Not even the town of Speyer, who does not issue the numbers itself anymore, but just has the link to the country government on its website.
After the rainy new Rhine waterside festival the Altstadtfest was happening again after three years. You could tell that some changes were obviously done because of Corona to prevent people from getting to packed in places. For example there were very few private courtyards open this year, on the fish market there was no stage, for the first time, and the food stalls have been moved to the cathedral parking lot. But in the end it was the weather that prevented it from getting too full, as it was chucking it down on Saturday night.
But the Bauernmarkt (farmers market) on the following weekend was making up for it, as it was already filling up on Saturday mornung. You could see some masks, but most people did not wear any.
The Infection numbers did actually increase after the Brezelfest. One week later the incidence peaked at just over 1000 and then was going down again. Whether this was caused by the Brezelfest only, or simply by the German-wide wave, can not be stated.
At the moment the incidence is around 220. The problem with the numbers is that only cases verified by a PCR test are taken in. Concerning the infections of people that I know, most of them did not do a PCR test, so they are not included in the statistics. Therefore, the number of unrecorded cases is probably very high.
In the meantime a new event in Speyer has been announced for the first weekend in September. The Rhine waterside festival will be happening at the bank of the big river, as the name suggests. Here is the link to the German website. (no English available)
The infection numbers are rising again, today the incidence in Speyer is at 510. And in the middle of this new wave there is the Brezelfest happening. Hygiene measures are nowhere to be seen, the festival is running like before. On Friday the Festplatz was full of people, while masses of new people kept on flocking in. It looke like people want to make up for the loss of the last two years. Let's see how the incidence will develop next week.
Since the beginning of June there are no more actual Corona numbers on the homepage of the town of Speyer, only a reference to the pages of the federal state government can be found now. But it is rather laborious to find the numbers there. It is also notable that the last Speyer numbers showed an incidence of 85, whereas the local newspaper Die Rheinpfalz gave out the number 235 in their first saturday issue a few days later.
In the town centre here Corona is not visible anymore. Tourism is up to normal again with the arrival of coaches and river cruise ships, only the events are still regulated concerning the numbers of visitors. But they are on again, with the exception of the Kaisertafel, but this has organisational reasons.
The numbers are slowly decreasing, at the moment the incidence is between 200 and 300. A year ago this would have lead to a lockdown, today this is only a minor matter, as the number of serious cases with hospitalisation has become very low.
As a result, the state of things in Speyer is coming back to the way it was before. At the weekend the Technik Museum hosted the annual "Brazzeltag" (that means that some of the old engines are brought back to life), and in town centre in the Maximilianstrasse there was a pottery and artisan market. Both events had lots of visitors. Only very few masks could be seen there.
In March it seemed that the number of infections would go down, only to rise again to a new wave. In the meantime the numbers are going back significantly.
The obligation to wear masks is now officially gone, and there are bigger events happening. On April 8th the Spring Fair has startet on the Festplatz, the first regular event there for over two years. Unfortunately, we had some bad luck with the weather, as it not only rained the whole day, also in the night the rain turned into snow and in the morning Speyer was covered in a white blanket. But at midday most of it was gone again.
Since April 1st the south west tower of the cathedral is open again for the public. Whereras the old town gate Altpoertel stays closed. One justification for this is that the narrow staircase prevents the implementation of Corona safety measures, the other one is that the town administration does have a staff shortage.
In February the expected Omikron-wave came over Germany. The Indices in the whole of Germany were at 1500 and above. At the moment it is just under 1200. But Speyer was only a few days over 1000 and is at the moment just under 700.
It makes you wonder if Speyer was lucky, in contrast to earlier wavers, or if it is simply caused by fewer testing. This is very difficult to judge.
The biggest difference to the situation at the beginning of the year is that the 2G rule (vaccinated or recovered) has been abolished and that you can enter "non-essential" shops without showing your proof of vaccination or recovery, for example in the local department store Kaufhof.
After the infection numbers were going down during the holidays, they are now rising to daily new record numbers in Germany, and therefore also in Speyer. The Omikron wave is in full swing, and so far no turn-around in sight.
In the every day life you don't notice that, as there have been no further tightenings of the corona rules. But now you hear more and more from cases of people you know.
The Christmas Market is now only open until Dec 18th. This has been agreed between the town council and the stall owners. But it remains closed on Sundays and it has to shut down at 6 pm. This is supposed to prevent overpopulation on Sundays and also breaches of the Corona rules due to too much Mulled Wine consumption.
The infection rates stay high at an incidence of 400-500, but at the moment this is not going higher.
The infection numbers in Speyer are rising. While in October the incidence was below 100, it then went up to below 200 and stayed there for a while. But now Speyer is just under 500.
The Christmas market has opened in town, spread out over the whole of the Maximilianstrasse as planned. The problem with that is that the control of the so-called 3 G (Germam for vaccinated, recovered or tested) is difficult, and random checks of the authorities showed a lot of non-compliance. As a reaction to that the Christmas market has to close now at 6 pm. In addition the so-called 2 G rule (Germam for vaccinated or recovered) is planned for the week ahead. The high infection numbers and the full hospitals make it rather unlikely that the market stays open until Christmas, or even beginning of January as planned.
What looked first as a steady rise in the infection rates, has now flattened and the index stays between 50 and 100. Therfore there is no tightening of Corona rules to be expected at the moment.
Meanwhile the the town centre is buzzing with tourists. The autumn school holidays and the new UNESCO world heritage title brings masses of visitors into Speyer.
The Christmas market is planned to take place again this year. But instead of being crammed in between the Old Mint and the Cathedral, the plan is to spread it out over the whole town centre. At the moment the approval from the country government is awaited.
In time for the start of the month the incidence rate has risen over 100. Which means that the upward tendency ist lasting. A part of the infection numbers is blamed on returning holidaymakers who weren't careful.
The rising numberes reduce the chances that events will start up again.
After the Corona-Incidence was down to 0 mid of July, the numbers have started to rise again. As of today it stands at 17.8 with tendency to rise.
In town centre there is the normal tourist bustle again, the pedestrian zone is as full as ever. The newly awarded UNESCO word heritage status for the SCHUM towns of Speyer, Worm and Mainz with their Jewish heritags has certainly added to this as well.
Meanwhile the Altstadtfest has been cancelled for the second time in a row. Since it was always very packed in the narrow streets there this is hardly surprising, and certainly sensible in view of the rising Delta variant.
With the summer the infection rates are sinking, at the moment the incidence in Speyer is in the low one digit area.
Last week the infection rates fell under the margin of 50. Therefore most shops are open again in Speyer and the cafés in town are serving again outside. Since the weather became nice and sunny at the same time, it looks like the town has come out of hibernation. Let's hope it stays that way.
Meanwhile the vaccinations still progress very slowly. The town is looking for helpers for the upcoming election, with a promise of a higher vaccination priority. But at the same time they have to admit that they can't guarantee that the second vaccination will be done before the election at the end of September. Which of course means that non-priority citizens have to wait even longer
This week it was announced that also in 2021 there will be no Brezelfest. The reason for that is the very diffuse infection situation. For a while now Speyer has been above average, and this makes the planning very difficult, or even impossible.
At the moment the 7-day-incidence is swinging around 100, and they are not stable enough below 100 so that the shops could open again. Hopefully this will be the case next week.
Meanwhile a vaccination event of a Speyer doctor made the news. The announcement that 1500 Doses are ready for anybody who wants it lead to a complete traffic standstill in the north of Speyer. From the perspectives of the doctor and the people who got the vaccination, this was a complete success. However, campaigns like that are declaration of failure for the health system, which is not capable to give out these doses orderly. Instead they created a vaccination-Darwinism here.
The reason for this run is of course the very slow progress of the vaccinations in Rhineland-Palatinate, and therefore also in Speyer. The people are getting more and more impatient. One reason is the concern for their own health, the other is that they want to get the privileges for the vaccinated, which is making social contacts, visits of restaurants etc., and travelling much easier. Especially the latter one is the motivation for the summer holidays, since with the current speed of vaccinations it will get up to Christmas before everybody is vaccinated.
Due to the lockdown the incidence numbers in Speyer were down to under 20, but as soon as the lockdown ended the numbers were soaring again, unfortunately. Speyer is now levelling around 150.
This is not that surprising. On Easter Sunday there were a few visitors in town, but in spite of the obligation to wear a mask about one quarter did not wear one or not completely over mouth and nose. Wherever you look there a slight violations of the rules. It seems that only a hard regiment can keep the numbers down. The personal responsibility, which was demanded by the federal president Steinmeier in his Easter speech, has not reached everybody.
The hard lockdown over the holiday seasen had the desired effect, mid January the incidence in Speyer dropped under 100 and it keeps on going down.
The number of infections in Speyer remains high, it is only the even higher numbers in Saxonia which keep Speyer off the top 5 in Germany. Therefore a nightly curfew from 21 - 5 has been installed since Monday Dec 7th. Until today (day 6) this had no effect, the numbers are staying high, yesterday 33 new cases have been confirmed.
33 Infections per day would be counting up to 231 a week. Since Speyer has a population around 50.000 this would be an incidence of 462 per week and per 100.000 inhabitants. This is the range where Speyer is at the moment (ca. 400)
The high numbers in the area are having the effect that all beds in intensive care in Ludwigshafen are full, and some patients had to be carried off to other hospitals. Therefore it can be expected that more drastic measures will be taken which will influence the holidays. There is no hope of an ordinary Christmas and New Year this time.
Speyer was for a long time at the back end of the infection numbers. Now the situation has been reversed, Speyer has with 364 Infections per week and per 100,000 inhabitants the highest numbers in Rhineland-Palatinate, and is in the top 5 of the whole of Germany. On November 17th it became mandatory to wear a face mask in town centre, but so far the numbers could not be forced downwards. According to Mayoresse Seiler the high numbers are due to few hotspots in Pensioner's and other shared homes, and these are subject to consequent testing and stricter rules now. Let's hope that this will have the desired effect.
Meanwhile some scattered Christmas stalls have been put up in town to have at least a bit of a Christmas market.
On Oct. 26th Speyer has crossed the critical margin of 50 new infections per 100.000 inhabitants during one week, and therefore is in "condition red". The infection rate is in the same order as for the neighbouring districts. And the outlook is that it is further rising, unfortunately.
The Wine Tasting, the Autumn Fair and the St. Martin's Parade have all been cancelled.
There has been a lot of discussions abouth the Christmas Market. It was clear that it could not be held in the hitherto existing form, packed tightly on the side of the Maximilianstrasse between the Old Mint and the Town House, it was always too overcrowded in the past. Therefore it was planned around the cathedral, but the stall owners did not like it. Then there was the idea to use the Festplatz, but this has also been discarded now. The latest idea is to spread single stalls around town centre. But if that really happens is still in question.
In the meantime the Altstadtfest has been cancelled, as well as the Farmer's Market.
The number of cases has gone up at the beginning of June, with 6 new infections within a week. The reasons for that I don't know. I can only hope that this has nothing to do with the loosening hygiene measurements.
Of course Speyer has also been hit by the Corona crisis. At the end of March most shops were closed and all events have been cancelled until the end of August. For a while there has been an eerie silence in town.
Meanwhile there is more life again in town. If there wouldn't be the queues in front of the shops with safety distance and people with masks you would not see much of a difference to before. What is different is that there are no events taking place at all - yet.
So far Speyer has got away lightly. As in the whole of the federal country of Rhineland-Palatinate the number of infections is not that high. On May 23rd there have been 84 cases reportet with one new infection in the week before. Unfortunately there are two fatalities now, but compared to other towns this is rather low.
But this exactly seems to be the problem, since people are easying the restrictions themselves without direct danger. On Ascension Day, which is Father's Day here, groups of people were going aroung on foot and on bicycles, and everywhere there have been family gatherings. Since Monday May 18th it is allowed again to receive visitors, but only from one other household. It is questionable if this has been followed all the time. So far I have not see any kind of enforcement.
During shopping you can also see a decline in discipline, some vendors don't wear masks anymore, other people start chatting and take their masks of because it is easier without. The fact that is is the talking that enhances the spread of the virus is just ignored.
The other problem is that the constant flow of new Corona regulations per federal country makes it difficult to know what is allowed at the moment and what is not. In Rhineland-Palatinate we are on regulation No. 7, if you extrapolate to the other 15 countries you get quite a lot. A lot of news sites have now a display on what is regulated where at the moment. In this case the federal system is not helpful at all, it is plain stupid.
So you can only hope that the dreaded second wave of infections is not coming and everything turns out fine.
In the recent years Speyer has depended a lot on tourism, and in the actual crisis this is the sector that is hit the hardest. Hotels and Restaurants have significant drops in income and are fighting for their very existence. It may take years bevor this sector regains the strength it had before the crisis. But it is very hard to predict at the moment.
The same problem is hitting the event managers, the people running the fairground attractions and the stall owners. Whereas the latter can still sell from home or over the internet, the others are currently out of their jobs. And it does not look like the usual frequency of events will restart soon.
Speyer is hit by the event cancellations a lot because these are a part of what makes Speyer what it is.
The Spring Fair
The Wine Tasting "Wein am Dom"
The Erection of the Guild's Pole
Open Sunday and Spring festival
The Kult(o)urnacht (Culture Night)
The Brezelfest - this one hurts the most
Whether the Altstadtfest will take place in September is questionable, it depends how the Corona infection wave develops.
In summary it can be stated that this year is, like everywhere else in this world, is the most unusual year since the end of the second world war. Let's see what else it will bring. In any case I wish everybody good health, and that the Corona wave will end soon.