Germany’s Oktoberfest cancelled due to coronavirus pandemic

By Rachel More, dpa

Germany’s Oktoberfest will not take place this year, making the famous beer festival the latest public event to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic.

The run-up to the world’s biggest beer festival, held annually in the Bavarian state capital of Munich, has been beset with uncertainty. Public gatherings are banned in Germany for the coming months due to the coronavirus threat.

The 187th Oktoberfest was set to take place from September 19 to October 4.

Bavarian state premier Markus Soeder, who traditionally would have been in line for the first sip of beer at the festival, announced the cancellation on Tuesday.

“It hurts, it is unbelievably sad,” Soeder said at a press conference alongside Munich mayor Dieter Reiter.

Both said they are hoping to celebrate the festival in 2021.

Around 6 million people normally attend Oktoberfest, which attracts visitors from around the globe. Revellers are packed into beer tents to enjoy 1-litre glasses of Munich’s finest brew.

Soeder and Reiter both stressed that the risk of worsening the pandemic was particularly high due to the large number of international guests at the event, with the Munich mayor saying they make up 30 per cent of visitors.

Large crowds also form outside the tents and in city streets, meaning the required 1.5-metre social-distancing rules currently in place across Germany would be hard to follow.

Reiter called it a “sad day,” noting that the region’s economy would suffer as a result of the cancellation, with restaurants, hotels and taxi drivers among those that will be hit particularly hard.

The 2019 festival brought in around 1.23 billion euros (1.33 billion dollars).

This is not the first time Oktoberfest has been cancelled. It fell through in 1854 and again in 1873 due to a cholera outbreak, and the festival often didn’t take place during wartime.

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