SHARE
COPY LINK

OKTOBERFEST

Munich’s Oktoberfest cancelled again over Covid

Germany's iconic Oktoberfest beer festival will be cancelled this year for the second year running due to the pandemic, Bavarian state premier Markus Söder said Monday.

Munich's Oktoberfest cancelled again over Covid
A beer bottle lies on the empty Oktoberfest fairgrounds. Photo: DPA

Holding big public events in Bavaria, including the annual Oktoberfest in the regional capital Munich, will not be feasible this year, Söder said after a meeting with city mayor Dieter Reiter.

“In the classic beer tents at the big festivals, social distancing, masks and other measures are practically impossible to implement,” Söder said.

“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.

READ ALSO: Oktoberfest in numbers: A look at Germany’s multi-billion euro business

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

But the Oktoberfest has previously fallen victim to epidemics — cholera kept the beer tents empty in 1854 and 1873.

With Germany’s vaccination effort picking up pace and new infection numbers beginning to slow, the government was Monday weighing new freedoms for those who have been vaccinated.

Some states have already lifted contact restrictions for vaccinated people, with the government planning national rules by the end of the week.

But Finance Minister Olaf Scholz told the Funke media group on Monday there was “still not much to be said” for a large event like the Oktoberfest.

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

READ ALSO: Oktoberfest ‘very unlikely’ to take place in 2021, says Munich’s mayor

Söder and Reiter ultimately decided to cancel it after consulting with other leaders of cities with large festivals.

“It’s a decision I have to make now. It makes no sense to wait,” Reiter said.

An alternative Oktoberfest celebration is set to take place in Dubai this year, starting in October and running for six months rather than the typical three weeks in the Bavarian capital.

Yet Munich’s city government wrote on their website that the sprawling event won’t replace the original two century old festival, as was widely reported.

READ ALSO: Is Germany’s Oktoberfest heading to Dubai this year?

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