Punxsutawney Phil - the weather prognosticating groundhog - is not expected to be welcomed with cheers and applause when he looks out of his burrow at the traditional event on February 2.
According to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club, the event, held since 1886 and attended annually by spectators from all over the country, will be ventured virtually this year because the “potential COVID risks to overcome are too great.”
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According to the traditional story, if the groundhog pops out of his hole and sees its shadow - the spring will arrive early this year, and if he does not - winter is set to continue for another six weeks.
Last year, however, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) urged the replacement of the groundhog with an AI robotic version, pointing to the fact that these creatures typically avoid humans and the whole ceremony is placing them in an unusual habitat they don't feel comfortable in.