Germany’s 2020 Oktoberfest is the latest large-scale event to be canceled as the coronavirus sweeps the globe.
Despite still being months out — the Oktoberfest celebration wasn’t scheduled to take place until Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 in Munich — officials decided to cancel this year’s event because it would be too dangerous from a public health stance to allow 6 million visitors from around the world to gather in crowded beer tents and streets.
Plus, precautionary measures amid the pandemic, such as wearing masks, aren’t conducive to sampling beer.
The decision to cancel Oktoberfest marks the first time since World War II that the iconic beer and folk celebration has been canceled.
Oktoberfest is just the latest public gathering to be called off amid the COVID-19 pandemic and it joins a growing list of worldwide cancelations or postponements that includes sports gatherings, concerts and festivals.
The International Olympic Committee announced the games that were scheduled to begin in July in Tokyo will be rescheduled “beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021.”
Here, in the United States, the Kentucky Derby has been pushed from May 2 to Sept. 5, the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival has been canceled altogether and the Rolling Stones’ North America tour that was to kick off in May has been postponed.
In addition to widespread cancelations of events and concerts, the pause button has been hit on everything from Broadway shows to live sporting events.
But the cancelation of Oktoberfest is especially notable as it signals that cancelations of large-scale global events are likely to stretch beyond spring and summer. Leaders in Germany decided that it would simply be too risky to hold such a massive gathering when there is no vaccine available.
The festival is a highlight of the year for many people, according to Munich’s Lord Mayor Dieter Reiter. “Not to let it happen is a bitter pill to swallow,” he said in a news release.
In the press conference, though, Reiter said he looked forward to the return of Oktoberfest in 2021.
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