MADRID (AP) — Officials in northern Spain’s Pamplona have called off the famed San Fermín bull-running festival for the second year in a row because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pamplona Mayor Enrique Maya cited a prevalence of coronavirus outbreaks, a high occupancy rate in hospitals and a slow rollout of vaccines as reasons to call off this summer’s celebration.
“The festival cannot be organized overnight,” Maya said Monday during a news conference. “This is very hard. I never thought that this could happen.”
The nine-day festival in July is easily Spain’s most international event. The festival was popularized by Ernest Hemingway’s 1926 novel “The Sun Also Rises” and up to last year’s cancellation had last been called off during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.
A new contagion resurgence seems to be waning in Spain, which has seen three major bouts of outbreaks since March last year. The accumulated caseload since then nationwide is nearing 3.5 million coronavirus infections.
At least 77,500 people have died in the country from COVID-19, although experts are saying that the vaccination of nearly one fifth of the country’s 47 million inhabitants with at least one of two doses is helping to keep the number of new fatalities at the lowest levels so far during the pandemic.