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With ‘heavy hearts’, Germany cancels Oktoberfest for 2nd year for fear of coronavirus

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Bavarian officials on Monday canceled the Oktoberfest celebrations for the second year in a row due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, saying there are many risks in holding celebrations that bring visitors from all over the world during a global pandemic.

Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder said it was with a heavy heart that they decided to cancel the festival for which the state is globally recognized, but that with coronavirus numbers still stubbornly high and German hospitals already struggling, this had to be done.

Oktoberfest will be held again and it will be big again, he vowed.

Germany is in the midst of a coronavirus blockade that includes a ban on large gatherings, with an infection rate of 146.9 new infections per week per 100,000 inhabitants.

Bavaria is slightly below the national average with 145.4 new infections per 100,000 per week, according to the country’s disease control center, the Robert Koch Institute.

Oktoberfest typically attracts around 6 million visitors from around the world and was scheduled from September 18th to October 3rd.

The combination of large crowded tents and the consumption of large amounts of alcohol, as well as the possibility that mutated varieties of the virus were brought in from outside, made it particularly dangerous to continue with the festival, Soeder said.

After Oktoberfest was canceled last year, about 50 of beer halls and other city centers in South Germany hosted small parties under strict coronavirus guidance. Mayor Dieter Reiter said the hope was that it would again be possible to have beer gardens and patios open under certain restrictions.

As difficult as the decision to cancel Oktoberfest would have been, it would have been worse if the city had waited too long and had to cancel it as preparations were already underway, he said.

For me, personally, it was not an easy decision because it is a big date on the calendar for the mayor, he said. Most importantly, it is a great shame for millions of fans around the world.

Under Germany’s national emergency brake legislation passed last month, measures restricting personal contacts, closing leisure and sports facilities and closing or restricting access to many shops begin for areas with more than 100 new cases a week. per 100,000 inhabitants for three consecutive days. Restrictions also include a curfew from 10:00 a.m. – 5 p.m.

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