Brussels (Brussels Morning) Bavaria’s Premier Markus Söder announced on Tuesday that Oktoberfest is being cancelled for a second consecutive year, citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, Deutsche Welle reported.
The world’s largest beer festival was scheduled to take place in Munich between 18 September and 3 October. However, the city’s Mayor Dieter Reiter and Söder decided it would be better to cancel it again, as they had done in 2020.
Söder explained that Oktoberfest is the “most global” festival in existence but with the pandemic not yet sufficiently under control, it would be unsafe to gather people from all over the world in cramped tents.
“In the classic beer tents at the big festivals, social distancing, masks and other measures are practically impossible to implement,” Söder exclaimed. “The situation is too precarious. Imagine there was a new wave and it then became a super-spreader event. The brand would be damaged forever and we don’t want that”.
Söder said he reached the decision with a heavy heart. Mayor Reiter acknowledged that the cancellation would come as a great disappointment to the festival’s millions of fans. He noted too that it had “existential implications” for the people who work there. As one of Germany’s premium tourist events, Oktoberfest brought in an estimated 1.23 billion euro to the local economy in 2019.
Some 6 million visitors from all over the world used gather in Munich for the annual Oktoberfest. The original festival tradition dates back some two centuries. Visitors sit at long communal tables, drink beer, eat sausages, pretzels and pork knuckles, and listen to live music.
Festival organiser Clemens Baumgärtner declared the decision was a “completely correct” move. He welcomed it, he said: “Not only out of concern for the health of the visitors, but also out of consideration for the good reputation of the Munich Oktoberfest as a high-quality, safe festival”.