On Monday, Bavarian authorities canceled the Oktoberfest for the second year in a row due to concerns about the spread of COVID-19, saying there were too many risks in hosting the celebrations – which attract visitors from around the world – during a global pandemic.
Bavarian Governor Marcus Soder said that with “heavy hearts” they had decided to end the festival with which the country is known worldwide, but that with the still persistently high number of coronaviruses and German hospitals are already struggling, this must be done.
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“Oktoberfest will be held again and will be big again,”
Germany is in the middle of blocking the coronavirus, which includes a ban on large gatherings, with an infection rate of 146.9 new weekly infections per 100,000 inhabitants.
Bavaria is just below the national average with 145.4 new weekly infections per 100,000, according to the country’s Centers for Disease Control, the Robert Koch Institute.
Oktoberfest usually attracts about 6 million visitors from around the world and was scheduled from September 18 to October 3.
The combination of huge tents full of people and the consumption of large amounts of alcohol, as well as the possibility of mutated variants of the virus being imported from abroad, made it especially dangerous to continue the festival, Soder said.
After the Oktoberfest was canceled last year, about 50 of the breweries and other establishments in the southern German city hosted smaller parties under strict coronavirus guidelines. Mayor Dieter Reiter said the hope was that it would once again be possible to open beer gardens and courtyards under certain restrictions.
As difficult as the decision to cancel Oktoberfest is, it would be worse if the city waited too long and had to cancel it once preparations were underway, he said.
“For me personally, this was not an easy decision because it is a huge date on the mayor’s calendar,” he said. “More importantly, it’s a great shame for millions of fans around the world.”
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Under German national emergency stop legislation adopted last month, measures to limit personal contact, close leisure and sports facilities and close or restrict access to many shops are being launched for areas that have more than 100 weekly new cases per 100 000 inhabitants for three consecutive days. Restrictions include evening hours from 22:00 until 05:00.