Bugging: Oktoberfest in Germany opens after 2-year hiatus

MUNICH (AP) — Beer is flowing at Munich’s famous Oktoberfest for the first time since 2019.

MUNICH (AP) — Beer is flowing at Munich’s famous Oktoberfest for the first time since 2019.

With three hammer blows and the traditional shout of “O’zapft is” – “It’s tapped” – Mayor Dieter Reiter inserted the tap into the first cask at noon on Saturday, officially kicking off the festivities after a two-year hiatus forced by the coronavirus pandemic.

Oktoberfest usually attracts around 6 million visitors each year to the crowded festival grounds of the Bavarian capital. The event did not take place in 2020 and 2021 as authorities grappled with the unpredictable development of COVID-19 infections and restrictions.

These worries have been put aside this year. The city announced in late April that Oktoberfest would continue, and Reiter said on Saturday “it was a good decision.”

“I am happy that we can finally celebrate together,” Bavarian Governor Markus Soeder said at the opening ceremony. “There are many who say, ‘Can we, can’t we? Is it appropriate now? I just want to say one thing: we have two or three difficult years behind us, no one knows exactly what this winter will look like, and we need joy in life and strength.

Three hours before Reiter exploded the first cask, revelers rushed to take seats in the huge beer tents as the gates to the festival opened.

They will need much deeper pockets than last Oktoberfest, with brewers and visitors in the face of inflationary pressure.

A 1 liter (2 pint) mug of beer costs between 12.60 and 13.80 euros (dollars) this year, an increase of around 15% compared to 2019, according to the festival’s official homepage.

This year’s Oktoberfest, the 187th edition of the event, runs until October 3.

Soeder told the daily Muenchner Merkur in comments published earlier on Saturday that the number of coronavirus infections would probably increase after Oktoberfest but “at the same time, fortunately, we are not measuring excessive pressure on hospitals anywhere”.

“It shows that we are in a new phase of corona,” he said, adding that authorities would try to protect vulnerable people but would not prevent celebrations.

The Associated Press

Carol N. Valencia