The Bavarian government has cancelled this year’s Oktoberfest 2020 amidst COVID-19 public health concerns.
The regional Premier Markus Söder and Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter made the announcement in a video posted to the Bavarian Ministry of Economic Affairs, Regional Development and Energy’s Facebook page yesterday.
The decision comes despite Germany being amongst the European countries that are lifting restrictions following the worldwide lockdowns put in place due to the COVID-19 outbreak. However Germany, as much of Europe, and Bavaria in particular has been hard hit by the spread of the virus.
Mayor Reiter said it was “quite a sad day” but they had high hopes that Oktoberfest would be back next year.
“I hope that in 2021, no, I’m sure that we will see another Oktoberfest in 2021 – hopefully under different conditions by then. Until then, I must beg your indulgence that there was no other solution,” he said.
Söder said that the risk was too great for them to hold the event, which would have happened between 19th September and 5th October this year.
“We have agreed that the risk is simply too high,” he told a press conference.
Oktoberfest has previously been cancelled during times of war and cholera outbreaks.
Held in Munich, the Oktoberfest celebrations have been celebrated for the past 186 years, and there are around 6 million attendees every year.
It has led to thousands of events all over the world set up in honour of the original event, one of those being Oktoberfest Brisbane, organised by German-Australian festival directors Kim and Boris Zoulek.
Brews News spoke to Boris, who also works in event equipment hire which has been hit hard by the crisis. He said the mood back in Germany about the cancellation of Oktoberfest was sombre.
“We’d been monitoring the situation for a few weeks with our connections in Germany, and the company we get our festival beer from, and it seems like it was inevitable looking at the situation in Germany and the impact of COVID-19 on the people there and particularly in Bavaria.”
He confirmed however that at this stage Brisbane’s own Oktoberfest set to be held on the 9th-11th and 16th-18th October, is still going ahead.
“We were in the planning phase before Christmas, and we have not as of yet made a decision to move or postpone. All the indications right now are moving in the right direction and we have been and will continue to monitor the situation,” Zoulek said.
The Oktoberfest team said they would follow government and health and safety directions, and while the festival will be going ahead bar any further complications from the COVID-19 situation, it will be affected by ongoing ongoing issues such as travel bands, which will prevent their six-piece German band from flying over for the occasion.
The Oktoberfest Brisbane crew would no doubt have to adapt to other issues as they arise, but the team are hoping that festival goers will be ready for the event and keen to get involved, whatever changes occur.
“We hope that our customers will have a level of understanding, and by that time will hopefully want to be out with friends and have a change of scenery from their living room! We’re doing the best we can and hope it will go ahead for people to enjoy,” Zoulek said.
The team are currently underway with a petition to make the October 9th a public holiday in honour of the historic beer festival.