Bavarian officials on Monday canceled Oktoberfest festivities for the second year in a row amid concerns over the spread of COVID-19, saying there were too many risks in hosting the celebrations – which draw visitors from around the world – during a global pandemic.
Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder said it was with “heavy hearts” that they decided to cancel the festival for which the state is known to the world, but with the still stubbornly high number of coronaviruses and German hospitals already in difficulty, it had to be done.
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“Oktoberfest will take place again and be important again,” he promised.
Germany is in the midst of a coronavirus lockdown that includes a ban on large gatherings, with an infection rate of 146.9 new weekly infections per 100,000 population.
Bavaria is slightly below the national average with 145.4 new weekly infections per 100,000, according to the country’s center for disease control, the Robert Koch Institute.
Oktoberfest typically attracts around 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 importing mutated varieties of the virus from abroad, made the continuation of the festival particularly dangerous, Soeder said.
After the cancellation of Oktoberfest last year, around 50 of the southern German city’s breweries and other establishments held smaller parties under strict coronavirus guidelines. Mayor Dieter Reiter said the hope was that it would again be possible to open outdoor gardens and patios under certain restrictions.
No matter how difficult the decision to cancel Oktoberfest was, it would have been worse if the city had waited too long and had to cancel it after preparations were already underway, he said.
“For me, personally, it was not an easy decision because it is a huge date in the calendar for the mayor,” he said. “Most importantly, it’s a huge shame for the millions of fans around the world. “
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Under Germany’s national “emergency brake” law adopted last month, measures limiting personal contact, closing leisure and sports facilities, and closing or restricting access to many stores are coming into force in the city. areas with more than 100 new cases per week per 100,000 population for three consecutive days. The restrictions also include a 10 p.m. – 5 a.m. curfew.