Officials in the Bavarian capital of Munich have been preparing for some time for the arrival of millions of tourists to Oktoberfest, its annual drinking festival, which begins Saturday. But this year the tourists are going to be joining thousands of unexpected guests -- refugees from the Middle East who have been entering the country via the city’s main train station.
City officials say their security preparations are sufficient to handle the presence of both revelers and refugees.
"The police, rail authority, and city of Munich have tested and adapted their security protocols for all eventualities," Stefan Frey, spokesman for the Bavarian Ministry of Interior, said in an email to The Huffington Post.
Five hundred federal police officers from across Germany -- the same number as in past years -- will be on hand for the festival.
Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann had previously expressed reservations about a possible clash of cultures should festival-goers meet with “refugees from Muslim countries" who "may not be used to seeing extremely drunk people in public.” Bavarian Prime Minister Horst Seehofer also called on Chancellor Angela Merkel to impose temporary border controls along its frontier with Austria, which Germany did on Sunday.
The number of refugees arriving in Munich has been dropping since. Police spokesman Carsten Neubert told the Guardian that new arrivals are now "a few hundred a day," down from a peak of 12,000 last Saturday.
"We're accepting as few new refugees as possible during this time," Sven Mueller, press spokesman for the Munich police department, told HuffPost.
The refugees and festival-goers will pass through the same train station during the festival. To minimize the chaos, officials have created a system that funnels refugees out of the station to the north and others out to the south, Deutsche Welle reports.
"The refugees have been arriving for nearly two weeks now, and the procedure has been well worked out at this point," Mueller added.
Bavaria is one of the primary regions coping with the refugee crisis. Officials there are overseeing the distribution of refugees from Munich to other cities across Germany. "It's our goal, during Oktoberfest, to accommodate the refugees elsewhere in Bavaria, or elsewhere in Germany, wherever possible,” said Frey.
This article has been updated throughout with additional information about the city's preparations.