The last two days of Venice’s famed carnival will be cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak, local authorities confirmed on Sunday.
The Venice Carnival began on 8 February and was supposed to conclude on Tuesday, 25 February. It attracts around three million tourists every year, but visitor numbers and hotel bookings suffered a sharp decline this year amid fears of an epidemic.
All public events will also be suspended in Venice until 1 March, President of the Veneto region Luca Zaia told reporters on Sunday. Schools and museums will be shut down too.
The decision came after two elderly people had been hospitalised in the city of canals with the virus. There have been over 130 confirmed cases across Italy, mostly in the north of the country, as well as three deaths tied to the disease – one in Lombardy, another in Veneto and the third one in Crema, east of Milan.
Several cities and villages in these two regions were put on lockdown over the weekend. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said nobody would be allowed to enter or leave the quarantined areas without special permission and promised to use the police and even the armed forces, if necessary, to uphold the ban.
Meanwhile, Italy's top football league, Serie A, has called off three matches scheduled for Sunday in Lombardy and Veneto, and the iconic opera house La Scala in Milan suspended all performances.
The pneumonia-like virus, which has symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath, was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December. It has since spread to 29 more countries and infected about 77,700 people worldwide, with the global death toll rising past 2,400. Most cases have been registered in mainland China, with spikes in South Korea and Italy in recent days.