What’s the SARS-CoV-2-situation currently like in Bavaria? Could COVID-19 kill the Oktoberfest 2020?

In Bavaria, it was already on January 28th that the first patient was positively tested on SARS-CoV-2. As the chain of infection could be perfectly retraced, that source of infection was however quickly eliminated. In Munich, people first became aware of the new coronavirus on March 6th, the day the public surprisingly learned, the Salvatorprobe would not take place as usual.

The Salvatorprobe is a TV event that gets the Bavarian television more than 40% market share, during which comedians roast the politicians in the audience. This year, however, the health officials advised the invited politicians against participating.

Only one week later, also the lent beer festivals, some of which already began, were canceled due to the infection risk. Today, social life in Bavaria has almost completely come to an end. Schools and restaurants are to be closed and people are asked to leave their homes only with good reason.

April 21th: Oktoberfest cancellation confirmed

Update: Since Tuesday, shortly after 9 am, we know for sure: the Oktoberfest 2020 is canceled.

April 20th: Press conference on Tuesday

Update: Bavaria's Prime Minister Markus Söder will hold a press conference together with Munich's Mayor Dieter Reiter on Tuesday, 9 am. We expect that it will be announced that the 187th Munich Oktoberfest will be postponed to 2021.

April 19th: Mayor Reiter will already decide this week

Update: On Sunday morning, Mayor Dieter Reiter announced in a talk show of the Bavarian Television that he will decide already this week if there will be an Oktoberfest in 2020. He also added, “I can only say that at the moment, I wouldn’t pay for an Oktoberfest reservation for 2020.”

April 16th: Decision to be made in April

Update: Mayor Dieter Reiter announced to decide already in April whether the Oktoberfest can take place or not. He's going to talk consult with prime minister Markus Söder beforehand.

The Armbrustschützenzelt has stopped accepting reservation requests. Already a couple of days earlier, the Hackerzelt pushed back its reservation phase to May, hoping they know more about if and how the Oktoberfest could take place this year.

April 15th: Volksfest Straubing cancelled

Update: On April 15th, the Bavarian prime minister, Markus Söder, announced that no big events will be licensed in Bavaria until August 31st. This also means, that the second largest volksfest, the Gäubodenvolksfest in Straubing, has to be canceled. It was planned to take place from August 7th to 17th.

Oktoberfest preparations go on as planned despite SARS-CoV-2

Oktoberfest tent hosts, as well as the state capital, continue planning the 187th Munich Oktoberfest as they do regularly. At the moment, the risk of cancellation is officially not being taken into account. This is not true for the spring festival (Frühlingsfest), which was scheduled to begin on April 24th. For the time being, it's not canceled but only indeterminately postponed, though.

When would the Oktoberfest have to be canceled?

At the moment, the responsible Department of Labor and Economic Development won’t answer that question. The licensing of the businesses who were chosen to be accepted for the fest will most likely take place in May or early June, just as it would under regular circumstances. It may, however, get interesting until July 6th, as this is the day, the construction of the large beer tents is set to begin.

Taking into consideration that their construction costs many millions of Euros, there will be some motivation to prevent setting them up for no reason and therefore cancellation before July 6th would be likely if by then, it seems completely unrealistic to have an Oktoberfest this year.

On April 16th, mayor Dieter Reiter announced, that he's planning to already decide in April.

Of course, a regular beginning of the construction would still not be a guarantee for the Oktoberfest to take place. Even in 2016, the construction began before the Department of Public Order even approved the Oktoberfest due to concerns with security measures.

Can COVID-19 still be an issue in September?

In theory, you could eliminate SARS-CoV-2 within in two weeks. This would be the case if either all terrestrials would isolate themselves for that time or if we would all get affected now and be immune (or dead) two weeks later. Both scenarios are however merely theories that could never be realized.

In Bavaria, as in most other areas in the world, the government instead tries to slow the spreading of the virus to keep the maximum amount of patients, who need hospitalization at the same time, stays below the maximum capacity of the health care system. This is necessary to keep the number of fatal cases as low as possible.

Many social network users have been demanding a strict curfew in reaction to the development in Bavaria, often next to the hashtag flattenthecurve, as they’d like the crisis to be over as soon as possible.

While flattening the infection curve is, as beforementioned, indeed very important, to assure that any patient – with no matter what medical condition – can be treated accordingly, this strategy will not shorten, but instead lengthen the crisis. If fewer people can get infected, that means that they will get infected at a later time, but as long as there is no vaccine, they will get infected eventually.

Only immunity, be it thanks to a vaccine or everyone having had the infection, can end this crisis. As even the most optimist scientists don’t expect a vaccine to be available before fall, COVID-19 will stay omnipresent throughout the whole summer.

Let’s hope, this whole issue will see an unexpected twist to give the year 2020 some of the joie de vivre it probably deserves.