China’s biggest beer festival on schedule

Qingdao – Oktoberfest may be cancelled this year because of the coronavirus pandemic but the eastern Chinese city of Qingdao is going ahead with its three-week beer festival.

This time, though, visitors will have to present a green health QR code to show they are free of the virus, according to the organisers. They will also have to wear masks, have their temperature taken on entry and observe social distancing rules. In addition, the festival, which attracted more than 7.2 million people last year, will run at half capacity.

But footage on the event’s social media account and released by state broadcaster CCTV showed unmasked visitors close together on the opening day on Friday.

The World Health Organisation has warned against holding mass gatherings, saying they could increase virus transmission.

The festival features more than 1,500 types of beer and 200 cultural and sporting events, including live music and on-site camping.

State broadcaster CCTV said the event gave visitors a chance to get “back on track of normal life”.

Qingdao has reported 65 local coronavirus cases with one death, according to municipal health authorities. The port city of Yantai near Qingdao reported two new imported cases, both from the Philippines.

Overall, China has recorded 84,428 coronavirus cases and 4,634 deaths.

In addition to the cancellation of Oktoberfest, which attracted 6.3 million visitors last year, the coronavirus pandemic has forced organisers to call off the Great American Beer Festival in Colorado and the Great British Beer Festival in London.

In China, the northeastern city of Dalian called off its 10-day beer festival scheduled for this month amid new outbreaks. About 400,000 attended the event last year, according to the organiser.

To minimise the risk of coronavirus transmission at the Qingdao festival, visitors are also required to register their name before entering an indoor performance venue.

Each of these venues will be disinfected before and after each event and seating has been changed to allow for adequate physical distancing. Dining tables have been placed at least one metre apart, according to the organiser.

Organisers said they had verified the identity and monitored the health of performers and staff 14 days in advance.

Health authorities will also test surfaces of beer containers and imported food packaging for the coronavirus to ensure food safety. (SCMP)