After a shaky start, vaccination programs in Europe are picking up speed—but German officials still had bad news for beer lovers Monday. Bavarian state Premier Markus Soder and Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter say this year's Oktoberfest is being canceled for a second year because of the pandemic, Deutsche Welle reports. In a typical year, more than 6 million people from all over the world gather in Munich to drink beer in large tents. "In classic beer halls, measures such as social distancing and mask-wearing cannot be enforced," Soder said, per Reuters. He said the decision was made with a "heavy heart," but the spread of COVID variants made the situation too "precarious."
Last year, officials decided in April to cancel the festival for the first time since World War II. The only previous health-related closures happened during cholera epidemics in the 19th century. This year's Oktoberfest had been scheduled to run from Sept. 18 to Oct. 3. Oktoberfest chief Clemens Baumgartner said the decision was "completely correct," both to protect the health of visitors and "out of consideration for the good reputation of the Munich Oktoberfest as a high-quality, safe festival." He predicted that next year's festival will be "very, very well attended because people are hungry and thirsty." (Read more Oktoberfest stories.)