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Irish authorities are set to cancel the nation’s annual St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, as concern around the coronavirus outbreak escalated.
The St. Patrick’s parade scheduled for March 17 in Dublin has been shelved, local media reported, on government advice. About half a million people attended Ireland’s national day celebrations last year, with thousands traveling from overseas.
Cork, Ireland’s second-biggest city, canceled its event on Monday, because city leaders said they couldn’t provide the “necessary assurances” to guarantee the safety of participants and spectators.
The festival is the latest in a string of events across the globe halted as the virus spread. Geneva’s International Motor Show has been canceled, as has the world’s biggest property conference in France. Technology conference South by Southwest in Austin, Texas, was also abandoned, while Ireland’s Six Nations rugby match against France, scheduled for this weekend, is off.
In Ireland, the cancellation of the St. Patrick’s Day parade will be a blow to hotels, bars and restaurants. In recent years, authorities have increasingly promoted the festivities as a lure for tourists, with global landmarks, such as the Empire State Building and London Eye, floodlit green around March 17.
Organizers put the economic benefit of the festival at more than 73 million euros (US$83 million). On Monday, Irish hotel operator Dalata Hotel Group Plc said it has seen a “significant reduction in bookings” and “a significant increase in cancellations” since last month.
Ireland had 21 cases of coronavirus confirmed by late Sunday.