Though the Swiss government has banned major events because of the coronavirus, several hundred people met in Basel on Monday morning to mark – and mourn – the cancelled carnival.
However, only a few of them wore costumes. Numerous people, many with candles, gathered at the market square. When the town hall bell rang at 4am, they cheered. Police marked their presence but did not intervene – even when a four-piece band marched past the police station.
On Friday, the Federal Council had banned all events with 1,000 or more people until March 15, including the Basel carnival.
Nevertheless, several groups met for a drink rather than marching with their flutes on Sunday evening. A few brought the lanterns that they would have presented on Monday morning.
To prevent such gatherings in nearby Liestal in Sissach, the authorities of canton Basel Country banned restaurants and bars there from serving drinks between Sunday at 7pm and Monday at 6am.
In normal years, Basel’s carnival attracts around 12,000 active participants as well as tens of thousands of spectators.