The Bavarian government is considering a blanket ban on backpacks during Oktoberfest after several terrorist attacks have rocked the region over the past week.
Oktoberfest in Munich is the largest and most well attended folk and beer festival in the world, attracting 5.9 million visitors last year. Although the visitors last year numbered in the millions, there was a 400,000 person decrease from the previous year, largely blamed on tight border controls due to the migrant crisis.
Politicians are now concerned more than ever that a potential terror attack will occur during the festival, and some are considering a ban on all backpacks at the event in an effort to increase safety, Bayerischer Rundfunk reports.
For Dieter Reiter, mayor of Munich, the Ansbach failed suicide bombing by a Syrian migrant outside a music festival has been a wake up call. Mr. Reiter now proposes a total ban on backpacks at Oktoberfest, the biggest event of the German calendar year, in order to prevent the same type of attack from occurring. “We are now talking of course even more intensively with the security authorities and the police about the subject of Oktoberfest,” he said.
While the ban on backpacks is currently only being considered, the mayor has said that all bags belonging to guests entering the Oktoberfest area will be subject to much more thorough searches than in the past. Mr. Reiker told German media that most Germans and visitors would understand the extra safety precaution in light of the recent attacks: “We will need to consider whether to prohibit backpacks. I say this quite openly, because since Ansbach everyone will have to understand that we need to think about such measures.”
The mayor also spoke about the aftermath of the Ansbach and Munich terror attacks. “It is a really bad time. A great depression has overcome the population in Bavaria,” he said. The head of Munich did have some positive things to say about the citizens of Munich, who he praised for inviting strangers off the street into their homes while the manhunt for the attacker was going on.
Last year the Munich police acted to keep revellers at the event separate from the new migrants, who at the time were coming into Germany by the thousands every day. The strong police presence will likely be intensified this year due to European police agencies like Europol warning that terror attacks are likely to increase.
This year’s Oktoberfest will celebrate the 500th year anniversary of the reinheitsgebot, or German purity law, that has influenced the production of German beer for half a millennium and the festival could be a target as a result.