Germany Cancels Oktoberfest Celebrations for the Second Year in a Row

Germany Cancels Oktoberfest Celebrations for the Second Year in a Row

The Bavarian celebration drew six million visitors annually before the pandemic.

Beer glasses won’t be raised at the world’s largest folk festival again this fall. German officials announced the cancellation of Oktoberfest, marking the second year in a row that the tradition has been called off because of coronavirus concerns.

“It wasn’t an easy decision, but I have to make it now and I have done so,” Munich’s Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter said on Monday, citing health and safety as the priorities. “That’s why there will be no Wiesn in Munich this year either.”

While the European Union is looking to reopen to fully vaccinated Americans this summer, Reiter cautioned that the pandemic isn’t over: “The risk is simply too huge that people here could become infected with the coronavirus,” he added, acknowledging the economic impact the cancellation will have on vendors. “But Oktoberfest can only take place completely or not at all.”

The 187th Oktoberfest celebration was originally scheduled to occur from Sept. 18 to Oct. 3. Even though it’s still more than four months away, the decision was unanimous, as Bavarian Minister President Dr. Markus Söder described, because of three factors. “First: The situation is too uncertain. We have an economic obligation here — a later cancellation of the Oktoberfest would be an economic loss,” he said at a press conference. The other reasons were fear of damaging the Oktoberfest brand and potentially “chaotic conditions” from enforcing the required mask and distancing requirements.

There had previously been hope that Oktoberfest 2021 (also called Wiesn 2021) could be held safely, but the third wave of COVID-19 put an end to that. The nation is currently in a lockdown that’s expected to last until June, CNBC reported. That includes a ban on large gatherings, and the festival usually attracts six million visitors, according to the Associated Press.

To date, Germany has had 3,438,186 COVID-19 cases and 83,605 deaths, according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. Bavaria, where the Oktoberfest tradition started in 1810 and the festivities remain, is slightly below the national average, with 145.4 new weekly infections per 100,000 residents, the AP reported.

 

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Germany Will Allow Vaccinated Travelers to Skip Quarantine and Testing

Germany Will Allow Vaccinated Travelers to Skip Quarantine and Testing

The measures come in time for summer travel.

The German government plans to allow visitors who have been vaccinated against or recovered from COVID-19 to skip mandatory testing and quarantines.

It also will permit travelers who test negative for COVID-19 to leave quarantine early. German lawmakers approved the changes on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported, noting that the relaxed restrictions won’t apply to travelers from countries where variants of concern are clustered.

The loosening of travel restrictions in Germany comes as Bavaria is reopening its outdoor beer gardens. Beer gardens in Munich — home of the world-famous Oktoberfest — were set to reopen on Wednesday, the AP reported. Oktoberfest, Germany’s best-known cultural celebration, was canceled again this year.

Still, for an increasing number of vaccinated Germans, summer vacations are on the horizon as COVID-19 caseloads fall in parts of Europe.

Countries such as Spain, the U.K., France, Greece, and Italy are preparing to reopen for international tourism. Beaches in Greece have already started to reopen. Museums are expected to follow closely behind. The U.K. has set up a traffic light system to govern travel to and from a number of European countries.

Germany also expects to roll out an app-based vaccine passport by the end of June.

An estimated one-third of Germany’s 83 million people have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. About 10% of the population has received two doses, according to official government figures, the AP reported.

Many children and teenagers have yet to be vaccinated, and some German doctors say they are facing increasing pressure from people looking for vaccines ahead of the summer vacation season.

Germany has reported more than 3.5 million cases of COVID-19 and just over 85,000 deaths, according to the latest available data from the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the WHO, Germany reported fewer than 7,000 new COVID-19 cases on May 10, a significant drop from the 24,097 it reported on the same day last month.

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