SHARE
COPY LINK

OKTOBERFEST

Germany’s Oktoberfest 2020 cancelled over coronavirus pandemic

Germany's Oktoberfest beer festival will be cancelled this year as "risks are too high" from the novel coronavirus, Bavarian state premier Markus Söder said Tuesday.

Germany's Oktoberfest 2020 cancelled over coronavirus pandemic
Archive photo shows a busy beerh all in Oktoberfest. Photo: DPA

The event, which takes place annually in late September, would be too dangerous “as long as there is no vaccine”, Söder said.

Even with masks and social distancing, the risk would be too high, he said, adding, “living with the coronavirus means living carefully”.

Germany has banned major events until August 31st as part of measures to slow down the spread of coronavirus.

The festival, which dates back to 1810, had been scheduled to take place from September 19th until October 4th. However, there had been a question mark over Oktoberfest going ahead since it's such a huge event.

Around six million visitors in total attend the event, also known as Wiesn, in Munich every year.

The local economy generated more than €1.2 billion thanks to Oktoberfest in 2018, according to the economic department of the Bavarian state capital.

Söder, of the CSU, and Munich's Mayor Dieter Reiter, of the Social Democrats, announced in a press conference that the event was cancelled this year.

“We want to continue to protect Bavaria,” Söder said. 2020 is “a year, unfortunately, without Wiesn,” he added.

READ ALSO:

Before the cancellation, Söder had said he was sceptical about whether a festival of this size could take place during the pandemic.

Oktoberfest has been cancelled before due to major outbreaks.

Archive photo shows groups drinking beer at Oktoberfest. Photo: DPA

Due to cholera, the festival was cancelled in 1854 and 1873. And during wartime, the beer festival did not go ahead. It was also put on pause during hyperinflation in 1923.

READ ALSO: Bavaria – How Germany's worst-hit state is emerging from coronavirus lockdown

Why are events banned at the moment?

In new guidelines published last Wednesday, the government said large-scale events “play a major role in the dynamics of infection”.

Experts have repeatedly said that close-contact social gatherings have contributed to the spread of coronavirus.

Large outbreaks, such as that in Heinsberg, North Rhine-Westphalia, have stemmed from social gatherings. In this area, a carnival event is thought to have fuelled the spread of Covid-19 in communities.

This ban on events therefore helps to contain the spread of coronavirus and at the same time provides some clarity for organisers and consumers.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

High profile German virologist Christian Drosten believes Germany will see a severe spike in Covid infections after summer, and that the pandemic will not become endemic this year.

Pandemic in Germany unlikely to end this year, says top virologist

Drosten previously said that Germany would probably be able to declare the end of the pandemic this year.

But in an interview with Spiegel, Drosten said he had reevaluated his opinion. 

“When the Alpha variant came, it was very surprising for me. When Delta appeared I was sceptical at first, then with Omicron we had to reorient ourselves again. And since January there have already been new Omicron subtypes.

“So I would actually like to correct myself: I no longer believe that by the end of the year we will have the impression that the pandemic is over.”

READ ALSO: End is in sight for pandemic in Germany, says virologist 

Drosten also said that Germany will not see a largely Covid-free summer, which has been the case in previous years, and a further increase in infections in autumn. 

“We are actually already seeing an exponential increase in case numbers again,” Drosten said.

“The BA.5 variant (of Omicron) is simply very transmissible, and people are losing their transmission protection from the last vaccination at the same time.”

In other countries, he said, when the number of cases become high, hospitalisation and death rates also rise again. “Unfortunately, that will also be the case here,” said Drosten, but added: “Overall, however, far fewer people will become seriously ill and die than in 2021.”

Drosten said he expected many more infections from September.

“I hope that the school holidays will dampen the increase in cases somewhat. But from September, I fear we will have very high case numbers,” the head of the virology department at Berlin’s Charité hospital told Spiegel.

READ ALSO: German Health Minister lays out autumn Covid plan

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021.

Virologist Christian Drosten at a Covid press conference in 2021. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Kay Nietfeld

If the government does not take any action, he predicted there would be a lot of sick leave across all industries. “That will become a real problem,” he said.

Drosten said he did not expect overcrowded intensive care units in Germany.

But the new BA.5 sub-variant, which is becoming dominant in Germany, may affect people more strongly. 

“The wheel is turning more towards disease again,” said Drosten. It is not true that a virus automatically becomes more and more harmless in the course of evolution. “That makes me even more worried about the autumn,” he said.

Drosten recommends wearing masks indoors during the colder months, saying it is “the least painful” measure.

If, in addition, “up to 40 million people could be immunised or given a booster vaccination” before winter, for example by urgently calling for company vaccinations, that would “really make a difference”, Drosten said.

In the long term, he said it’s inevitable that people will become infected with coronavirus.

He said the population immunity due to vaccinations and infections will at some point be so strong that the virus will become less important. “Then we will be in an endemic state,” said Drosten. In the worst case, however, this could take “several more winters”.

However, Drosten warned against people trying to deliberately infect themselves with Covid, saying getting the infection in summer doesn’t mean people will be protected in winter. 

Drosten himself said he has not yet contracted Covid-19.

“So far, I guess I’ve just been lucky,” he said. “I rarely put myself in risky situations, but I’m not overly cautious either.”

‘Pandemic depends on behaviour’

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI)’s latest weekly report, more outbreaks are occurring in care homes, and the number of patients in intensive care units is slightly rising as infections go up. 

The institute said there had been a 23 percent increase in the 7-day incidence compared to the previous week. On Friday the 7-day incidence stood at 618.2 infections per 100,000 people. There were 108,190 infections within the latest 24 hour period and 90 deaths. 

“The further course of the pandemic depends not only on the occurrence of new virus variants and the uptake of vaccinations on offer, it also depends to a large extent on the behaviour of the population,” said the RKI.

According to the DIVI intensive care register, the number of Covid-19 patients in ICUs had increased to 810 on Thursday this week, from about 600 at the beginning of the month.

However, that number is still low compared to previous Covid peaks when thousands of people were in intensive care in Germany. 

SHOW COMMENTS