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The coronavirus cancels Oktoberfest in Germany

Bavarian State Premier Markus Soeder and Munich's mayor Dieter Reiter announced the cancellation of this year's Oktoberfest beer festival due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.SVEN HOPPE/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

BERLIN — This year’s Oktoberfest in Munich has been called off because of the coronavirus pandemic. The cancellation of the world-famous annual celebration of beer, which was supposed to run from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4, underlines expectations that the way back to normal life will be very long.

The Oktoberfest typically draws about 6 million visitors every year to the packed festival grounds in Bavaria’s capital.

Bavarian governor Markus Soeder said after meeting Munich’s mayor Tuesday: “We agreed that the risk is simply too high.” He added that “you can neither keep your distance nor work with facial protection” at the Oktoberfest.


Soeder noted that the festival attracts visitors from around the world, raising concerns about bringing new infections to Bavaria.

Mayor Dieter Reiter said that “it is an emotionally difficult moment and of course it is also an economically difficult moment for our city.”

As it stands, major events with large audiences are banned in Germany until at least the end of August. The country has taken the first steps toward loosening its shutdown, allowing small nonessential shops to start opening this week, but it remains unclear when bars and restaurants will be able to welcome customers again.

The Oktoberfest has previously been canceled during the two world wars; at a time of hyperinflation in Germany in 1923; and because of cholera outbreaks in 1854 and 1873, German news agency dpa reported.