Despite Germany relaxing some of its lockdown measures this week, Bavarian ministers decided to make the decision to cancel Oktoberfest now rather than later. Bavaria’s Minister-President Markus Söder said: “It hurts us, it’s an incredible pity,” as he announced the cancellation at a news conference alongside Munich’s Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter.
Mr Söder added: “As long as there is no vaccination, we need to be very sensible.
“We are in mutual agreement that the risk is quite simply too high … compromises will not help.”
Mayor Reiter said the decision to cancel was a “bitter pill.”
“This is an emotional and economically difficult moment,” he said.
Revenue from the Oktoberfest last year amounted to €1 billion, which is around £870 million.
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What is Oktoberfest?
Oktoberfest is the largest beer festival in the world.
It is famous for its adorned beer halls and steiner beer mugs, the largest of which is a full litre.
The official Oktoberfest is held in Munich every year, although smaller variations take place across Germany and the world, particularly in the USA.
The festival is 210 years old, and is an extremely popular date in the German calendar.
Festivalgoers sit close together in packed beer tents, making it the enemy of social distancing guidelines.
When does Oktoberfest take place?
Also known colloquially as Die Wiesn or “the meadow”, it was due to take place from September 19 to October 4.
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The festival attracts visitors from around the world.
Some of the brewers who take part had suggested holding a “Wiesn Light” – hosting it only for locals, but city authorities rejected the idea.
The cancellation is a heavy blow for the economy.
Not only showmen, innkeepers and stall owners at the fair itself, but also hotels, restaurants, taxi drivers and retailers benefit from the fair.
The festival has only been called off in the past in similarly extraordinary circumstances.
Cholera outbreaks cancelled it in 1854 and 1873, and the two world wars and hyperinflation of 1923 were the other circumstances to put a halt to the festivities.
On Tuesday morning, Bavaria had over 39,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus, and 1,447 people had died of the disease.
On Monday Chancellor Angela Merkel urged Germans to be disciplined to avoid a relapse after some improvement in the number of cases of coronavirus.
Germany has had a high number of cases but has maintained a relatively low death rate.
Commercial retailers under 800 square metres have been permitted to open, as well as car dealerships, bike shops and book stores.
Larger premises remain closed and restaurants, bars and gyms will be closed for a while longer.
Pictures emerged of happy Germans flocking to hair salons after the restrictions were lifted.
The wearing of face masks when out in public has been urgently recommended by the German government.
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