Scheme is intended to help local retailers struggling because of lockdown.
Drivers in a small town in western Germany have been finding unusual parking tickets slipped under their windscreen wipers in recent days.
Instead of the usual penalty notice, the tickets read: “Ho ho ho...that was close! The highway code still applies at Christmas. You just haven’t thought about it and have parked your car illegally. But today we’re not issuing fines. Your local authority wishes you a happy Christmas!”
The tickets are not a practical joke. They are being issued by the town hall in Gemersheim, on the banks of the river Rhine, as part of a scheme to support local businesses through the coronavirus pandemic.
“We wanted to give tradespeople who are suffering major difficulties because of corona a helping hand. And at the same time make it more pleasant for people to go shopping instead of ordering their Christmas presents online,” said Marcus Schaile, the town’s mayor.
“We don’t want to punish anyone who overstays parking limits because they were stuck in the queue at the perfume store.”
Shops are open in Germany but there are currently long queues because of strict limits on how many customers are allowed inside at a time. Mr Schaile stressed the no fines policy only applied to those who overstay parking limits and was not a “carte blanche” to park illegally.
“Anyone who blocks a disabled parking space, for example, will have to face the consequences,” he said.