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Germany Cancels Oktoberfest Over Fears Of Spreading Coronavirus

It may be months away, but Germany’s government has announced that Oktoberfest, one of the globe’s largest (and most profitable) celebrations, will be canceled this year amid concerns that it could spark the spread of the coronavirus.
“Markus Söder, Bavaria’s minister president, and Dieter Reiter, Munich’s lord mayor,” announced the decision Tuesday morning, according to USA Today.
“It hurts, it’s such a pity,” Söder said in a press conference. “We have agreed that the risk is simply too high.”
The annual festival, though, packs 6 million people into Munich’s city center, into a series of beer tents, where partygoers often sit shoulder to shoulder — a distinct problem given the current need for “social distancing” to slow and prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
Authorites are also concerned that open food and drink could become a breeding ground for the virus, leaving millions of tourists exposed and, then, more likely to bring the disease back to their home countries after enjoying the festivities in Germany, sparking a second global wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“This is not a normal year and it is unfortunately a year without the Oktoberfest,” Soder added. “It hurts. It is a huge shame.”
The loss of Oktoberfest will be a huge financial blow to Germany. The festival brings in an average of one billion Euros per year — close to $1.1 billion — but Germany says it’s desperate to avoid a COVID-19 relapse.
Germany has fared better than most European states amid the coronavirus pandemic, losing under 5,000 people to the deadly disease. According to the New York Times, because of early social distancing orders, extensive home-based medical care, and aggressive testing and tracking measures, Germany has kept its death rate from the virus under 3% — a miracle given that neighboring Italy’s death rate is hovering at around 10%.
It also helps, the NYT reports, that the average person who contracts the virus in Germany is younger than the average coronavirus patient elsewhere in Europe and, because the virus spread initially among skiers at some of Germany’s prestigious, exclusive resorts, many of the country’s early cases were in healthy, athletic individuals.
They’ve also policed public transportation aggressively, forcing riders to wear masks and gloves — measures that might have slowed the spread in other metropolises, like New York City, where the subway is now widely believed to be a hot zone for virus transmission.
Germany says that canceling Oktoberfest is just another measure to keep virus transmission low — but they aren’t happy about making the call.
“A decision that saddens us all: It affects me, deeply and personally. A festival for millions, which stands for Munich, for the joy of life, for Bavaria, cannot take place,” the festival’s head told media.

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