Germany’s Christmas Might Be A Silent Night in 2020

This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)

Germans look forward to ending every year with mulled wine, Christmas markets, Christmas carols and family reunions among other joys of Christmas. But as it turns out, some of these festive moments might not be the same this year as Germany’s lockdown extension is expected to affect the holidays. Since Iunera hails from Germany, this article will focus on Germany’s Covid Christmas situation. Read on to find out how Christmas will be different in Germany this year and how data-driven tech can help.

Iunera's virtual xmas party
A lockdown can’t stop us from celebrating Christmas. All it takes is just some adjusting. And smartphones or laptops to keep in touch with friends and family.
[The picture shows four of Iunera’s team members, Dhanhyaa, My Linh, Tim and Christian in a virtual Christmas party]

On the first day of Christmas, the government gave to me…

Since early November, Germany has been in partial lockdown but the restrictions still didn’t do any justice to the increasing numbers of Covid-19 cases in the country. So, the lockdown was extended to January. Non-essential shops except food retailers, pharmacies and banks are closed from 16th December 2020 to 10th January 2021.

To make up for the costs of closing businesses in the non-essential sectors, the German government might extend the economic stimulus to them. At the same time, companies have to either give their employees a break or encourage them to work from home to curb the need to travel.

And to a certain extent, this lockdown might be good news for students since the school holidays had to start on 16th December 2020, earlier than initially planned. But if there’s one thing the whole world has learnt this year, it’s that technology has provided a whole array of solutions to the pandemic-related disruptions for companies and schools.

Even if the lockdown was not enforced this Christmas, there are numerous ways to conduct contact tracing to stay safe such as QR code scanning, mobile Big Data analytics, Bluetooth tracking and third-party geotracking. But since it is already enforced, the other viable option for retailers is Big Data-driven e-commerce, whereby personalised recommendations can enhance a customer’s shopping experience.

Accompanying any retailer’s e-commerce platform is the delivery service, with which Big Data can help by analysing the factors of delivery times and come up with estimates for the retailer to find out its delivery performance. So, it would make sense for businesses, especially those involved in the Christmas markets, to shift to e-commerce to stay afloat while keeping everyone safe.

Another thing that the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown taught the world is the need for technology-driven work and school arrangements. For schools and universities, a shift to online education might make educational analytics a lot easier to do as all the data can be extracted online.

Meanwhile, employers can find ways to increase their employees’ productivity at home with work-related software like virtual kanban boards and motivate them by staying in touch through work chats and video calls. But it’s the holidays, so it would be nice to just hang out, right?

Tis the season to be jolly… Toned down

Until 10th January 2021, private gatherings of a maximum of five people aged 14 and above are allowed. For extra precaution, everyone is urged to avoid social contact for a week before a gathering.

However, these conditions are loosened during the Christmas week, from 24th to 26th December 2020, when the maximum number of over-14s is increased to ten unless the party guests are not family. On top of that, churches can still conduct Christmas services, but without the carolling.

Zoom parties for Christmas
Whoa, all those rules about Christmas party guests! Wouldn’t it be just much easier to host Zoom parties instead?

But then, the rules for New Year’s Eve celebrations are stricter as the firework displays, sale of personal pyrotechnics and public consumption of booze will be prohibited. Sounds like the perfect justification to put out the flames unless they’re virtual like the Zoom parties that I would strongly urge everyone to do.

Oh, what fun it is to ride with a mask on

With the lockdown restrictions, public transport is expected to be quieter. For those wondering if they can travel, there’s no ban on travel. But the government has urged people against travelling unless it is absolutely necessary. Non-essential travel includes tourist travel.

That’s why hotels are only allowed to serve guests who are travelling for essential reasons and not for tourism. Looks like there will be some hotel booking cancellations. Hotels can use predictive analytics to forecast cancellations in order to minimise the losses resulting from unsold rooms, no-shows and last-minute check-ins.

As for the mode of transport, driving your own car is probably the safest option since you won’t come into contact with other members of the public. But if you are not driving a car to travel across Germany, you can travel by bus or train. To comply with the coronavirus social distancing rules, Deutsche Bahn plans to prepare extra trains for passengers amounting up to 13,000 extra seats and set a maximum occupancy of 60% in each train.

Hmmm… If only there’s a way to know for sure if it’s safe to use the bus or train at a certain point in time. Well, fret not! There is. Look East and you’ll find that Big Data in the form of people flow tech can do wonders to managing congestion levels in public transport systems.

Big Data tech can also provide real-time estimates that enable commuters to make optimal travel decisions based on congestion levels, arrival times, departure times and routes. In addition, mobile phone data can be used to gauge the demand for public transport and meet that demand through the expansion of services in terms of time and location.

Hechingen Bahnhof – train station of the city of Hechingen, Germany
How train stations will look like if everyone chooses the simpler option – to stay at home and throw virtual parties.
Image Source: Markus Winkler

Dreaming of a safe Christmas

It might seem like the lockdown restrictions are killjoys to almost everyone’s favourite time of the year. But this lockdown could be a step in the right direction. And just because a festival has been forced to tone down doesn’t mean that it can’t be celebrated. Take it from me. Although I grew up attending pompous weddings and cultural celebrations, I personally am a firm believer that special occasions made simple can still be joyous.

Aligning with the lockdown conditions and infection prevention, technology has made it possible for people to celebrate Christmas safely while not missing out on Christmas traditions. For those sitting between the desire to enjoy the festivities and a tight budget, this comprehensive guide might help.

Most importantly, everyone needs to keep in mind that Christmas is not about who put up the best Christmas decor or baked the best gingerbread. Instead, it’s about taking time off work to appreciate life’s greatest gifts: the opportunity to rest and spend quality time with loved ones (even if it’s done virtually).

With that said, the Iunera team wishes everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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