Prime Minister Boris Johnson has advised against “all unnecessary social contact” in a bid to slow down the spread of coronavirus.
This warning has been extended to mass gatherings, with the government’s chief scientific adviser Patrick Vallance telling the public to stop non-essential travel and avoid all gatherings big and small.
Pubs, clubs, restaurants and theatres will be feeling the squeeze, but which big events will we be missing out on due to COVID-19 over the next few months?
St Patrick’s Day – 17 March
St Patrick’s Day is Ireland’s biggest celebration, marking the death of their shamrock loving patron saint.
But this year parades across the world, including Ireland, London and New York, have been cancelled.
Tens of thousands of marchers and millions of spectators normally participate.
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Thanks to government advice to avoid pubs, clubs and restaurants, people won’t be celebrating in bars around the globe with a pint of Guinness.
For the first time in nearly 60 years the Chicago River will not run green as a nod to St Patrick chasing “the snakes” out of Ireland.
Mothering Sunday – 21 March
Originally celebrated by Christians on the fourth Sunday in Lent as a day to honour the Virgin Mary, Mothering Sunday is now an annual reminder to say thanks to hardworking mums everywhere.
Families who would normally get together to show their appreciation for a special mother or grandmother will now have to respect the advised social curfew and keep their distance.
This will be particularly important for grandparents over 70, who fall into the category of being at increased risk of severe illness from coronavirus.
While flowers and cards can be sent, meeting up in restaurants or pubs will have to be avoided.
SXSW Festival – 13-22 March
The nine-day South By Southwest music and theatre event in Austin, US, was one of the first big events to be pulled.
With music acts including Wire, Otoboke Beaver and Alex Somers, it was cancelled just a week before it was due to take place.
Festival goers have been told their tickets are non-refundable but can be deferred.
Organisers apologised on Twitter, writing: “We’ve learned that if there’s anything more difficult than producing an event the magnitude of #SXSW, it’s cancelling one.”
UN March Against Racism – 21 March
UN anti-racism day protests in London and Glasgow have been “postponed due to COVID-19”.
This year’s events were due to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Sharpeville Massacre in South Africa in which 249 people were killed after police opened fire during an apartheid demonstration.
No new date has been announced.
Download Festival – 20-21 March
It is bad news for Australian rock fans as Download Festival was cancelled after headliners My Chemical Romance pulled out.
The event usually takes place in Sidney and Melbourne respectively.
It’s not good news for UK rock fans who will now be watching out for UK Download event announcements.
Headlined by Kiss, Iron Maiden and System Of A Down, the Leicestershire event is due to take place between 12-14 June.
BFI LGBT Festival – 18-29 March
A key event in the LGBTIQ+ calendar, the British Film Institute’s LGBT film festival BFI Flare has been pulled “due to the scale and complexity of running a large international film festival with filmmakers set to travel to it from across the world”.
Organisers said it had been a “difficult decision” to cancel the festival, which aims to showcase LGBT films.
Following the cancellation, organisers said they would be looking at “ways of sharing some elements of BFI Flare digitally”.
The Grand National – 4 April
Europe’s biggest horse race The Grand National has been cancelled.
The Jockey Club said it was “no longer appropriate to stage the event”.
The four-mile steeplechase, which sees 40 horses and jockeys jump 30 fences over two laps, attracts a worldwide audience of about 500m people.
Aintree Racecourse says tickets will be refunded.
Easter Egg hunts and the Pope’s Easter service – 10-13 April
Easter egg hunts in parks and National Trust venues around the country will no longer take place.
While the Easter bunny may still be delivering eggs to homes around the country (via supermarket click and collect), large-scale gatherings for families and children are now inadvisable.
On a more religious Easter note, the Pope’s Holy Week and Easter services will now be held without the public attending because of the coronavirus outbreak.
In an unprecedented move, the Vatican says Pope Francis‘ blessings will now be live streamed.
Coachella Festival – 10-12 April and 17-19 April
The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California, has been postponed.
Loved by the rich and famous and held in a polo club in the Coachella Valley in the Colorado Desert, it’s largely seen as one of the biggest selfie opportunities of the year.
Usually held across two weekends in April, it has now been pushed back to 9-11 and 16-18 October 2020.
It’s not known whether all the confirmed acts – which include headliners Rage Against The Machine, Travis Scott and Frank Ocean – will still be performing in their rescheduled slots.
Record Store Day
The annual event to promote independent music retailers should have taken place on Saturday 18 April but will now be postponed until 20 June.
Marked by a number of exclusive releases by big acts, Record Store Day describes itself as a celebration of “life, art, music and the culture of the indie record store”.
It usually involves thousands of people and small businesses.
Organisers said that after considering various options – none of which were perfect – they decided to delay the event by two months.
The London Marathon – 26 April
The 2020 London Marathon, originally set for 26 April, has been postponed until 4 October.
World marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge – who smashed the two-hour barrier and won last year’s race – backed the decision and offered a motivational message to disappointed participants.
The Kenyan athlete wrote on Twitter: “To the thousands of runners who with me have devoted the last months of our lives towards this goal I would like to say: Be proud of the work you have put into this journey, keep smiling and seek your next goal on the horizon to continue running in a smooth and positive way!”
Theatreland in general
New York, the city that never sleeps, has suspended Broadway until mid-April.
The US theatre district is one of the city’s biggest tourist attractions, but with around 1,000 seats per venue it’s a no-go area as far as mass gatherings are concerned.
And London has followed suit, with the Society of London Theatre, which represents the West End, confirming the capital’s theatres will close until further notice.
Sister organisation UK Theatre said its 165 venues around the country would take the same step.
The Creative Industries Federation called the government’s social distancing measures – which are advisory rather than an outright ban – “a crippling blow to the UK’s creative industries”.
While theatregoers are eligible for a refund, some theatres are asking people to donate the cost of their ticket, as actors, stage crews, bar workers and venue staff all brace themselves for tough weeks and months ahead.