Authorities have issued a ban on all trucks in the city centre ahead of the upcoming Cologne carnival in an effort to prevent a repeat of the Berlin Christmas market attack.
Organisers of the carnival, which is set to take place between the 23rd and 28th of February, are looking to increase security at the event and hope the ban on trucks weighing more than 7.5 tonnes will make a radical Islamic terror attack, like that which occurred in Nice or Berlin, impossible.
Mayor of Cologne Henriette Reker said there would also be armed police guarding the carnival but said the festive spirit of the event would not be affected, Die Welt reports.
“Nobody should be afraid of participating in the street carnival,” Ms Reker said. Cologne is not the only city to increase security in their city centres. Bonn and Essen have erected concrete barriers to prevent trucks or cars from entering pedestrian areas and Dusseldorf is considering a similar ban.
Police in Cologne and Dusseldorf will be armed with submachine guns, though both cities have noted they have no evidence of being the target of any specific terror threats.
The cost of the extra security is not going to be cheap for Cologne or the carnival organisers. The Leverkusen Carnival Festival has allocated an extra €5,000 for added security though Uwe Krause from the Leverkusen Carnival committee said a lot of the cost would be covered by the event’s sponsors.
Security was also an issue for the carnival last year, though for different reasons. Many authorities were concerned about potential mass sex attacks following the sex attacks on New Year’s Eve in central Cologne. Despite beefing up security for the event, the number of sex attacks at the carnival doubled.
Due to the number of sex assaults, police had considered advising migrant centre managers to discourage or ban migrants from attending the events. The police were heavily criticised for the suggestion and were forced to apologise.
One of the groups who slammed the suggestion were the Cologne Refugee Council who claimed the carnival was an opportunity to help migrants integrate and said police were provoking hostility to migrants.
Psychologist Stephan Grünewald said he didn’t think terror fears would affect attendance of the carnival saying the “carnival is a feast of forgetfulness”. He added: “In bad times people want to celebrate Carnival.”
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