All St Patrick’s Day parades in Ireland have been cancelled on official government advice because of the spread of the coronavirus.
Several Irish embassies and diplomatic missions have also cancelled their annual St Patrick’s Day receptions.
The last time St Patrick’s Day parades were cancelled was due the foot and mouth restrictions in 2001.
The parades decision was made on Monday of this week following a meeting of a cabinet sub-committee and Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team.
In Ireland where it is a Bank Holiday Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade festival regularly attracts as many as half a million people and is said to generate €73m for the local economy.
All of the UK’s St Patrick’s Day parades and festivals are still scheduled to go ahead this Sunday.
The Irish government also announced a €2 billion aid package to deal with the impact of the coronavirus on health and the country’s economy.
At the time of the announcement there were at least 21 known cases of coronavirus in Ireland.
But Ireland’s acting Health Minister Simon Harris warned people that it will get worse.
He said it will require a whole of government and whole of society response.
“I think that’s a really important message, I know a lot of people are worried. Over 80 per cent of us who will get this virus will get a mild illness, but for some of us we will get very sick,” he said.
Still on the island of Ireland, in Northern Ireland, two schools were closed after a pupil tested positive for coronavirus.
At the start of this week Northern Ireland had at least 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
The France-Ireland Six Nations game which was scheduled to conclude the Guinness 2020 Six Nations in the Stade de France next Saturday was postponed until October.