The changing of the leaves, the smell of smoke as onions, sausages and delicious foods fry and yes – the taste of lovely cold beer on an autumn day. This is the dream of Oktoberfest, and one that will not be realized in 2020. As of Tuesday morning, April 21st, 2020 Oktoberfest is cancelled.
Germany has been one of the most resilient and effective nations in staving off covid-19, with some of the lowest case counts in Europe. With 6 million visitors to Munich alone for the annual beer fest, maintaining that track record was not going to be easy. The move couldn’t have been easy.
BREAKING NEWS: Oktoberfest 2020 is officially cancelled. This is going to have a huge impact on Munich’s economy. Over 6 million people visit for the festival each year.
— Oliver Sachgau (@sachgau) April 21, 2020
Germany has a ban in place against large gatherings through August 31st, but that obviously doesn’t specifically include the late September – October beer festival as of yet, which falls later in the year. Hotels, airlines and vendors were desperately hopeful the coveted event would be among the first re-openings of the year, but lingering woes have made that untenable.
To protect the safety of the people and honor previous sacrifices made to fend off the virus, Markus Söder, Premier of the Bavarian state told revelers the event will be cancelled, despite being outside of the current ban window. A subsequent attempt to propose a “locals only” mini Oktoberfest was met with little enthusiasm by state officials and is unlikely to go ahead either.
The announcement from Germany is just one of thousands around the world in regards to a rapidly changing world. While much of the focus and conversations around the economic impacts of covid-19 center around travel, it’s the entertainment, sports and conference industry which will be among the heaviest hit.
Whatever your favorite sport or musical artist, you won’t be going to any live games or performances, any time soon. The same goes for all large gatherings. It’s hard to fully estimate how significant the knock on effects of empty stadiums, cancelled tours and unfulfilled championship runs will be, but obviously none of these decisions are made lightly.
With news that Oktoberfest is off for 2020, we probably all need a beer, though in Europe where the news is breaking this morning, it’s a bit early. Prost to everyone.