London has become the latest city to close its St Patrick’s Day parade amid coronavirus fears.
It follows a series of events that were called off in Ireland earlier in the week due to the amount of people that attend, including international visitors.
Events in the US have also been cancelled because of fears the virus – also known as Covid-19 – could spread, with New York calling off its parade for the first time in 258 years.
The event falls on Tuesday 17 March this year.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he was “disappointed” to cancel the celebration but said he had “no choice” but to do so.
UPDATE: London’s St Patrick’s Day celebrations are an annual highlight for many, so I'm incredibly disappointed that this year’s event has had to be cancelled as key performers and parade participants are no longer able to participate due to the ongoing threat of coronavirus.— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) March 13, 2020
London’s Irish community makes a huge contribution to our great city. I recognise that the unavailability of key performers and parade participants leaves no choice but to cancel.— Mayor of London (@MayorofLondon) March 13, 2020
In Ireland, four events in Dublin were called off, starting with the three-day festival village which was to start on 14 March, a treasure hunt on 15 March and the festival parade and ceili mor, a cultural event, on 17 March.
An official Government statement said: “Due to the unique nature and scale of the St Patrick’s Day festivities, in terms of size, the mass gathering of local and international travellers, and the continued progression of community transmission in some European countries, along with the emergence of a small number of cases of local transmission in Ireland, the Government has decided that St Patrick’s Day parades, including the Dublin parade, will not proceed.
“This is based on the advice of the National Public Health Emergency Team.
“The situation in relation to other events and mass gatherings remains under review and any response will be guided by the NPHET which meets again tomorrow, along with the public health advice.”
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New York City has also called off the parade, with the New York state governor saying that limiting large gatherings is one of the best ways to stop the virus spreading.
It is the largest parade in the US, usually drawing in two million spectators, but it will be held at a later date.
Boston’s mayor said the event was called off “out of an abundance of caution to ensure that we are doing what is needed to keep the residents of Boston safe and healthy”.
Chicago cancelled its parade too, with the city’s mayor Lori Lightfoot telling reporters she couldn’t risk the event taking place.