Germany’s iconic Oktoberfest celebration has officially been canceled for 2020 because of the COVID-19 outbreak, Bloomberg reported Tuesday.
The traditional celebration is typically held in Munich from mid-September until early October. While this year’s festivities are still a few months away, officials decided to make the call early because of the dangers of gathering in large groups amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“We agreed that the risk is simply too great,” Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder said in a press conference.
Schwere Entscheidung mit Münchens OB Dieter Reiter: Das Oktoberfest 2020 muss ausfallen. Das Risiko ist einfach zu hoch. Man kann dort weder Abstand halten noch Mundschutz tragen. Mit Corona zu leben, heißt vorsichtig zu leben, bis es Impfstoff oder Medikamente gibt. #wiesn pic.twitter.com/AMHpQAjIL0
“Difficult decision with Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter,” he later wrote in a tweet that has been translated to English: “The Oktoberfest 2020 must be canceled. The risk is just too high. You can neither keep your distance there nor wear a face mask. Living with Corona means living cautiously until there is a vaccine or medication.”
The festival has been held since 1810 and this is the first time the festivities have been canceled since World War II. It typically brings about 6 million people to the city from more than 50 countries to drink beer, eat traditional food, dance, and overall celebrate.
Germany introduced social distancing measures last month as the coronavirus pandemic raged around the world, and while they’ve recently been relaxed in some parts of the country, according to Reuters, large public gatherings are still banned until at least August 31, so many were not surprised by the recent cancellation announcement.
”We hope that next year we can make it up together,” Reiter said.
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