Germany’s iconic Oktoberfest beer festival has been canceled for the second year in a row due to the pandemic, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Soeder said on Monday.
Holding large public events in Bavaria, including the annual Oktoberfest in the regional capital Munich, will not be possible this year, Soeder said after a meeting with the city’s mayor, Dieter Reiter.
“In classic beer tents at big festivals, social distancing, masks and other measures are virtually impossible to implement,” Soeder said.
“The situation is too precarious,” he added. “Imagine there was a new wave and then it becomes a mass-market event. The mark would be damaged forever and we don’t want that. “
Reiter said the cancellation was “a great pity” for the festival’s millions of fans, with “existential consequences” for people’s livelihoods.
The event, which attracts around six million visitors a year from late September to October, was canceled in 2020 for the first time since World War II.
But Oktoberfest has already suffered from epidemics – cholera kept beer tents empty in 1854 and 1873.
As Germany’s vaccination effort accelerates and the number of new infections begins to slow, the government on Monday weighed new freedoms for those who have been vaccinated.
Some states have already lifted contact restrictions for those vaccinated, with the government planning national rules by the end of the week.
But Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told the Funke press group on Monday that there was “still not much to say” for a big event like Oktoberfest.
“We should stay away from large crowds in a confined space for now,” he said.
© 2021 AFP