Innkeepers in Munich tapped their barrels this weekend for revellers determined to make the most of a scaled-down Oktoberfest.
- Publicans across Munich have opened their doors for a mini-Oktoberfest celebration
- In other years, the Bavarian event has attracted up to 6 million people
- Munich is concerned about a resurgence in COVID-19 cases
Authorities announced in April the world’s biggest beer festival was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Local hoteliers issued invitations to a “pub Wiesn” — using the local name for the festival — after hearing many revellers were planning in any case to drink on the Theresienwiese, an open space where the Oktoberfest is usually held.
The pub event will run until October 4.
The specially brewed beer started flowing at midday on Saturday (local time) at 54 pubs, with locals in traditional lederhosen and dirndls sitting at spread out tables and, where possible, outside.
“It is a great alternative because at last we can celebrate the Oktoberfest a bit. It’s not the same as usual, but still,” said Christine Bachmeier, smiling at a table laden with litre glasses of beer at the famous Hofbraeuhaus.
However, it is a far cry from the 6 million visitors from all over the world who usually flock to the Bavarian capital to squeeze into tents with long wooden tables and benches to swig beer and sing and sway to catchy oompah band tunes.
Each year, the partygoers consume more than 7 million litres of beer, more than 100 oxen and half a million chickens.
The first Oktoberfest was held in 1810 in honour of Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig’s marriage.
It now it typically brings Munich some 1.2 billion euros ($1.9 billion) in annual revenues, though not this year.
Still, in the pubs and sun-drenched gardens hosting the mini-Oktoberfest, guests put on a brave face.
“It’s the best we can do in corona times,” visitor Harald Posler said.
A spike in infections in Munich has increased worries about coronavirus.
Although Germany has kept the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths lower than many of its European neighbours, the number of infections rose on Saturday by 2,297, the highest daily increase since the end of April, the Robert Koch Institute said.
That brings Germany’s total tally of cases to 270,070, with 9,384 deaths, including six new fatalities reported on Saturday.