Munich’s famed Oktoberfest folk and beer festival has been canceled for the first time since World War II, the latest major event to fall victim to the coronavirus outbreak and a blow to the Bavarian capital’s economy.
“We agreed that the risk is simply too great,” Bavarian Premier Markus Soeder said at a news conference Tuesday. “We are living in different times and living with corona means living carefully.”
Speaking alongside Soeder, Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter said the event — this year due to take place between Sept. 19 and Oct. 4 — brings in around $1.3 billion for local businesses and that hotels, restaurants and taxi drivers would especially suffer.
The Oktoberfest, first celebrated in 1810, is one of the world’s biggest folk festivals and draws more than 6 million visitors from more than 50 countries. Last year, they guzzled 7.3 million liters of beer, a slight decline from the previous year’s 7.5 million liters.
Germany has banned large public gatherings until at least the end of August, and the cancellation of the Munich event was widely expected.
The festival was called off twice in the past due to outbreaks of cholera, in 1854 and 1873. In 1980, a bomb exploded at the main entrance, killing 13 people and injuring more than 200.
Reiter said the decision to cancel the 2020 edition is “a bitter pill to swallow” and had not been taken lightly. “We hope that next year we can make it up together,” he added.