Germany’s Oktoberfest is canceled.
Markus Söder, Bavaria’s minister president, and Dieter Reiter, Munich’s lord mayor, announced the news together Tuesday, citing the coronavirus pandemic as the reason for the cancellation.
“It hurts, it’s such a pity,” Söder said, as noted in comments shared on the Oktoberfest website from the news conference. “We have agreed that the risk is simply too high.”
The German beer festival, scheduled to take place Sept. 19 through Oct. 4, expected nearly 6 million guests to attend. According to Reuters, Oktoberfest brings in 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) into Munich. Coronavirus could spread rapidly through beer tents, streets and alleyways if guests crowded Munich for the festival.
Germany has seen more than 147,500 cases of coronavirus, and more than 4,860 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins data.
“A decision that saddens us all: It affects me, deeply and personally. A festival for millions, which stands for Munich, for the joy of life, for Bavaria, cannot take place,” said Clemens Baumgärtner, the head of Oktoberfest.
Baumgärtner stressed it was the right decision because there could be no guarantee that the festival would not pose danger. Oktoberfest is not a celebration that can be postponed or moved, according to Baumgärtner.
“The Wiesn (Oktoberfest) is a total work of art that you either do completely or not at all – and this work of art cannot be moved backwards or made in a smaller form,” he said.
Reiter called it a “sad day.”
“I hope that in 2021, no, I’m sure that we will see another Oktoberfest in 2021 – hopefully under different conditions by then,” Reiter said. “Until then, I must beg your indulgence that there was no other solution.”