Germany Cancels Oktoberfest Celebrations for the Second Year in a Row
The Bavarian celebration drew six million visitors annually before the pandemic.
Beer glasses won't be raised at the world's largest folk festival again this fall. German officials announced the cancellation of Oktoberfest, marking the second year in a row that the tradition has been called off because of coronavirus concerns.
"It wasn't an easy decision, but I have to make it now and I have done so," Munich's Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter said on Monday, citing health and safety as the priorities. "That's why there will be no Wiesn in Munich this year either."
While the European Union is looking to reopen to fully vaccinated Americans this summer, Reiter cautioned that the pandemic isn't over: "The risk is simply too huge that people here could become infected with the coronavirus," he added, acknowledging the economic impact the cancellation will have on vendors. "But Oktoberfest can only take place completely or not at all."
The 187th Oktoberfest celebration was originally scheduled to occur from Sept. 18 to Oct. 3. Even though it's still more than four months away, the decision was unanimous, as Bavarian Minister President Dr. Markus Söder described, because of three factors. "First: The situation is too uncertain. We have an economic obligation here — a later cancellation of the Oktoberfest would be an economic loss," he said at a press conference. The other reasons were fear of damaging the Oktoberfest brand and potentially "chaotic conditions" from enforcing the required mask and distancing requirements.
There had previously been hope that Oktoberfest 2021 (also called Wiesn 2021) could be held safely, but the third wave of COVID-19 put an end to that. The nation is currently in a lockdown that's expected to last until June, CNBC reported. That includes a ban on large gatherings, and the festival usually attracts six million visitors, according to the Associated Press.
To date, Germany has had 3,438,186 COVID-19 cases and 83,605 deaths, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Bavaria, where the Oktoberfest tradition started in 1810 and the festivities remain, is slightly below the national average, with 145.4 new weekly infections per 100,000 residents, the AP reported.