BERLIN (AP) – Oktoberfest celebrations kicked off Saturday in Munich with the traditional tap of a barrel and the cry “O’zapft is!” – “It’s been drained!” – but this year’s festival is very non-traditional and highly regulated due to concerns about the coronavirus.
The official Oktoberfest has been canceled, so there aren’t huge tents full of people or hundreds of booths with food. Instead, 50 of the southern German city’s beer halls and other establishments host their own, smaller parties that follow guidelines on wearing masks, social distancing, and other restrictions.
Former Mayor Christian Ude started the party by hitting a tap in a 20 liter (5 gallon) keg – one tenth the size of the Oktoberfest standard – in the Schillerbraeu beer hall while dressed in Bavarian lederhosen leather pants and wore a protective mask.
Meanwhile, the police patrolled the regular festival site to make sure that no spontaneous parties started.
The loss of the Oktoberfest is a huge hit for the Bavarian city, which saw 6.3 million guests flood last year for the 186th year of the festival. They were served 7.3 million liters (about 15.5 million pints) of beer for 16 days and consumed 124 oxen, in addition to other traditional foods.
This year’s toned-down celebrations run through October 4.
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