Oktoberfest is still several months away, but as fears of contagion in large gatherings continue, Germany’s famous beer festival has officially been canceled for a second year in a row.
On Monday, Bavarian officials announced that the event will not be taking place over concerns of COVID-19 spread. The region’s governor, Markus Söder, said that the decision has been made “with heavy hearts,” the Associated Press reported. He also promised that the festival “will be held again” as soon as the pandemic has been managed, offering a glimmer of hope for 2022.
Munich’s Oktoberfest, which typically attracts over six million people over two weeks, was scheduled to take place between September 19 and October 4. Maintaining the event, which takes place in large, crowded tents throughout the city, was deemed too unsafe, as social distancing would be impossible.
Last year, Söder said, “This is not a normal year and it is unfortunately a year without the Oktoberfest. It hurts. it is a huge shame.” The festival, which has been running since 1810, has been canceled three times before, due to two cholera epidemics and World War II. This year, there are additional concerns over the spread of new COVID-19 strains.
“For me, personally, it was no easy decision because it is a huge date in the calendar for the mayor. Much more importantly, it’s a huge shame for the millions of fans worldwide,” Mayor Dieter Reiter told AP.
Last month, Germany passed legislation in order to get a better grip on the rising COVID-19 infection numbers. The new rules entail restricting store access in areas that have more than 100 new cases per 100,000 people for three days in a row and a 10:00 PM to 5:00 AM curfew.
A version of this article was previously published on April 21, 2020, and was updated on May 4, 2021, with more information.