Germany’s famed folk and beer festival, Oktoberfest, has been cancelled, marking a massive sting to the Munich economy.
It’s thought to be the first time the event has been postponed since World War II, with the news broken by Bavaria’s Minister President Markus Söder and Munich’s Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter.
In a joint statement, the politicians said the risk associated with the spread of COVID-19 was too high for the event, expected to attract more than six million visitors, to occur.
“We are living in different times, and living with corona means living carefully,” Söder said at a press conference in the Bavarian State Chancellory.
“The greatest sensitivity applies to celebrations.”
Schwere Entscheidung mit Münchens OB Dieter Reiter: Das Oktoberfest 2020 muss ausfallen. Das Risiko ist einfach zu hoch. Man kann dort weder Abstand halten noch Mundschutz tragen. Mit Corona zu leben, heißt vorsichtig zu leben, bis es Impfstoff oder Medikamente gibt. #wiesn pic.twitter.com/AMHpQAjIL0
— Markus Söder (@Markus_Soeder) April 21, 2020
Reiter said the event, which was this year due to take place between 19 September and 4 October, would have brought in two million foreign visitors and around €1.2 billion ($2 billion) for local businesses, as reported by Bloomberg.
Hotels, restaurants and taxi drivers would especially suffer with its cancellation, he said.
The decision will also impact the country’s breweries. Last year’s event saw the consumption of an astonishing 7.3 million litres of beer – a slight decline from the reported 7.5 million litres of the year prior.
It comes as Germany continues its ban on large public gatherings, which will go on until at least the end of August. As a result, the cancellation of Oktoberfest 2020 was widely expected.
According to data from the Johns Hopkins University, Germany has recorded 6,126 deaths from 158,758 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
In addition, Söder said the COVID-19 outbreak at Austria’s Ischgl ski resort, where more than 600 cases of the virus are said to be linked, had illustrated the risks of public festivals and large gatherings becoming hubs for infection.
“As long as there is no vaccine, as long as there is no medicine, special care must be taken,” he said.
Reiter said the decision to cancel Oktoberfest 2020 was “a bitter pill to swallow” and that it had not been taken lightly.
According to the event’s organisers, in all likelihood, 2021 will see a particularly beautiful and intensive celebration at next year’s Oktoberfest from 18 September 2021.
“We hope that next year we can make it up together,” Reiter said.
Featured image credit: iStock.com/Rawf8