Be a PRO & get up to 50% off on select brands. Explore Now
you are here: HomeNewsWorld

Germany's Oktoberfest cancelled again over COVID

Germany has been in some form of virus shutdown since November, with restaurants, bars, hotels and leisure facilities all feeling the pain from prolonged closures.

May 03, 2021 / 09:54 PM IST

Germany is cancelling its iconic Oktoberfest beer festival for the second year running due to the coronavirus pandemic, Bavaria's state premier Markus Soeder said Monday.

The Oktoberfest, which draws around six million visitors annually from around the world in late September to October, was cancelled in 2020 for the first time since World War II.

"In the classic beer tents at the big festivals, social distancing, masks and other measures are practically impossible to implement," Soeder said after a meeting with Munich mayor Dieter Reiter.

"The situation is too precarious," he added. "Imagine there was a new wave and it then became a superspreader event. The brand would be damaged forever and we don't want that."

Reiter said the cancellation was "a great pity" for the millions of fans of the festival, with "existential consequences" for people's livelihoods.


COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

View more
How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

How many types of vaccines are there?

There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

View more

But the pair said they hoped the festival, which generates around 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) annually for the local economy, will return in 2022.

The event, where beer-swilling punters in traditional costume typically dance on tables to classic German drinking songs, was scrapped last year because of the pandemic.

And it has previously fallen victim to epidemics with cholera keeping the beer tents empty in 1854 and 1873.

In its 211-year history, the festival, whose delicacies besides beer include roasted almonds and candyfloss, has been cancelled a total of 26 times.

- 'Greatest calling card' -

Germany has been in some form of virus shutdown since November, with restaurants, bars, hotels and leisure facilities all feeling the pain from prolonged closures.

But with the vaccination effort picking up pace and new infection rates beginning to slow, talk has started to turn to the loosening of restrictions for vaccinated people and in areas with low incidence rates.

Under national containment measures introduced in April, areas with an incidence rate of less than 100 new infections per 100,000 people over the last seven days are allowed to open shops, restaurants, cinemas and other facilities to anyone who can provide a negative test.

Soeder had earlier announced plans for Bavaria to open restaurants, theatres, cinemas and beer gardens from next week in areas with incidence rates under 100.

Hotels, holiday homes and holiday apartments will also be allowed to welcome guests over the Whitsun holiday weekend in late May.

But Soeder said that under the "innumerable conditions" that would have to be in place for this year's Oktoberfest to go ahead, Bavaria could risk irreversible damage to its "greatest calling card".

Finance Minister Olaf Scholz had also earlier told the Funke media group there was "still not much to be said" for a large event like the Oktoberfest, despite the prospect of other restrictions being lifted.

"We should hold off on large crowds in a confined space for the time being," he said.

Germany on Monday recorded 9,160 new infections in the past 24 hours and 84 deaths, according to the Robert Koch Institute health agency, with a national incidence rate of 146.9.
first published: May 3, 2021 09:54 pm

stay updated

Get Daily News on your Browser