This year’s Oktoberfest, a world-famous annual celebration of beer in Germany’s Munich has been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Oktoberfest, which is the world’s largest beer festival, was supposed to begin on September 19 and go on till October 4. Such beer/wine festivals are also known as ‘Volksfest’.
The Oktoberfest draws around 6 million visitors every year to the packed festival grounds in Bavaria’s capital.
The cancellation of the beer festival underlines expectations that the way back to normal life will be very long.
Bavarian governor Markus Soeder said after meeting Munich’s mayor on Tuesday (April 21), “We agreed that the risk is simply too high.” He added that people would neither be able to keep their distance nor work with facial protection at the Oktoberfest.
Soeder noted that the festival attracts visitors from around the world, raising concerns about bringing new infections to Bavaria.
Mayor Dieter Reiter said, “It is an emotionally difficult moment and of course it is also an economically difficult moment for our city.”
He added that the cancellation of the event would result in a slump in Munich’s economy, since the festival brings in around 1.2 billion euros ($1.3 billion) through local businesses, restaurants, hotels, and taxi drivers.
As it stands, major events with large audiences are banned in Germany until at least the end of August. The country has taken the first step toward loosening its shutdown, allowing small non-essential shops to start opening this week, but it remains unclear when bars and restaurants will be able to welcome customers again.
The Oktoberfest, which began in 1810, has previously been cancelled during the two world wars, at a time of hyperinflation in Germany in 1923, and because of cholera outbreaks in 1854 and 1873, German news agency DPA reported.
(With inputs from agencies)