“We hope that next year we can make it up together!"

By Cailey Rizzo
April 21, 2020

The world’s largest beer festival, Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We have agreed that the risk is simply too high," Bavaria's Minister-President Markus Söder said in a statement on Tuesday. "We are living in different times. And living with Corona means living carefully. The greatest sensitivity applies to celebrations."

Officials said the festival could not happen in a toned-down way. From the ride operators to the pretzel vendors, the festival is a “total work of art that you either do completely or not at all – and this work of art cannot be moved backwards or made in a smaller form,” Clemens Baumgärtner, the head of the festival, said in an additional statement.

Oktoberfest organizers hope the festival will return in 2021, scheduled to start on September 18.

joggers run up stairs by Theresienwiese
Joggers run up a staircase above the empty Theresienwiese, where the annual Oktoberfest takes place. The biggest folk festival in the world will not take place in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
| Credit: picture alliance/Getty

“We hope that next year we can make it up together!" Munich's Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter said.

Munich’s Oktoberfest typically brings 6 million visitors to the beer tents and crowded alleyways that host the two-week festival. It was scheduled to take place from September 19 through October 4.

guests line a table at Oktoberfest 2019

With more than 147,000 confirmed cases according to Johns Hopkins, Germany is the fifth most affected country in the world. But the country has only reported 4,862 deaths since the virus broke out at the end of February, marking a remarkably low death rate of only 1.6 percent, according to The New York Times.

Germany has been pushing widespread testing since the virus broke out. The country performs 350,000 tests per week, more than any other European country, which allows them to catch patients with few or no symptoms and treat them early. People who have come in contact with a confirmed case are tracked, contacted and tested.

Germany has also pushed strict social distancing measures, which have been extended until May 3. Large public gatherings, including religious ceremonies, are banned until August 31. Bars, restaurants, cafes and movie theatres are still closed although shops are slowly starting to reopen this week. People inside must stay six feet apart and are encouraged to wear masks, according to The BBC.

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