Munich sees sharp rise in Covid cases after Oktoberfest

Since the start of Germany’s Oktoberfest, the incidence of Covid infections in Munich has risen sharply. Though a connection with the festival can’t yet be proven, it seems likely.

The main entrance to Oktoberfest in Munich.
The main entrance to Oktoberfest in Munich in 2022. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

Two weeks after the start of Oktoberfest, the Covid numbers in Munich have more than tripled.

On Sunday, the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) reported an incidence of 768.7 for the city of Munich, though updated figures for the end of the festival are not expected until later in the week. Usually, on weekends and public holidays, there is a delay in reports.

In the entire state of Bavaria, the incidence value on Sunday was 692.5.

According to Munich’s public health officer, Beatrix Zurek, bed occupancy in Munich hospitals has also increased. Two weeks ago, 200 beds in Munich were occupied by Covid patients, whereas there are now around 350.

Though a relationship between the sharp rise in infections with Oktoberfest, which ended on Monday, can’t be proven at the moment, it seems very likely, according to experts. A significant increase in Covid incidences has also been shown at other public festivals – about one and a half weeks after the start. 

READ ALSO: Germany’s famed Oktoberfest opens after two-year pandemic hiatus

After a two-year break due to the pandemic, around 5.7 million visitors came to this year’s Wiesn according to the festival management – around 600,000 fewer than at the last Oktoberfest before the pandemic in 2019, when there were 6.3 million.

Federal Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) took to Twitter to comment on the rise in incidence in Munich during the Oktoberfest. “This would not have been necessary if self-tests had been taken before admission,” he said.

“Compared to the price of a measure of beer, €2-3 (for tests) wouldn’t have mattered,” he said.

Even before the start of the Wiesn, he had spoken out in favour of people taking voluntary self-tests. Lauterbach stressed that now is the time for special measures against Covid.

“The development shows what will happen if the states wait too long with the mask obligation in indoor areas,” he added.

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s new Covid-19 rules from October

In neighbouring counties, where many Oktoberfest visitors came from, the number of Covid cases has also risen noticeably.  Beatrix Zurek said that it is unclear, however, how much of a role Oktoberfest played in these figures, as people are currently much more active socially overall, with concerts and other events also taking place throughout the state.

Christoph Spinner, an infections specialist at Munich’s Klinikum, has urged people not to be alarmed by the rising numbers.

“We had expected rising incidences here. We knew that there could be a doubling, tripling, even quadrupling,” he said.

He said that this is no cause for concern, as many people have been vaccinated or have also recovered from previous Covid infections, so any new infections are therefore usually mild.

The virologist advises people over 60 or with pre-existing conditions to get a second booster vaccination, but otherwise said people shouldn’t be alarmed by the rising incidences.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


German schools and kitas warn of closures amid staff sickness wave

Schools and nurseries in Germany could have to close their doors due to too many staff members calling in sick with seasonal infections, the primary school association has warned.

German schools and kitas warn of closures amid staff sickness wave

With temperatures dropping and Covid and flu infections spiking, experts are warning that the shortage of staff in schools and Kitas around Germany is becoming increasingly hard to manage. 

According to Edgar Bohn, the chairman of the primary schools association, parents could find themselves left without childcare at short notice this winter if local schools have to close their doors due to too many staff absences.

“The staffing situation in many primary schools in the country is on the brink and in some cases is below the calculated staffing requirement,”  Bohn told RND. “I cannot and do not want to imagine complete school closures, but they could certainly be the result in some cases.”

READ ALSO: Reader question: Can I take sick leave in Germany without visiting a doctor?

Bohn’s warnings were echoed by Waltraud Weegmann, the head of the German Daycare Association, who reported that the situation in nursery schools was already difficult. 

“Many daycare centres across Germany are currently struggling with a high number of staff absences,” she said.

In Weegmann’s view, the skilled worker shortage in nursery schools needs to be dealt with urgently.

“Haste is required,” she said. “Otherwise we will no longer have a daycare centre crisis, but a complete daycare centre collapse.”

Though almost all sectors in Germany are battling severe staff shortages, education and childcare regularly emerge as two of the worst-affected sectors in the country.

According to Jennifer Rotter, a spokesperson for the Workers’ Welfare Association, this “precarious situation” makes school and Kita closures not just likely, but inevitable.

“Reduced opening hours and even short-term closures due to a lack of staff are almost the rule rather than the exception at the moment,” Rotter told RND.  

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: Which German sectors have the most job openings?

Covid inflections in Germany have been on the rise since the beginning of autumn, with official statistics from the Robert Koch Institute suggesting an incidence of 27 infections per 100,000 people in the space of a week.

However, since testing for the virus has sunk to very low levels, experts say the real figure is likely much higher.

In addition to infections with Covid-19, general respiratory infections like the flu are also going up. In the week ending November 19th, the frequency of this type of infection had risen to 8,700 per 100,000 people. 


wave of illnesses – (die) Krankheitswelle

short-notice – kurzfristig 

school closures – (die) Schulschließungen

precarious – prekär 

We’re aiming to help our readers improve their German by translating vocabulary from some of our news stories. Did you find this article useful? Let us know.