Coronavirus: Why the St Patrick’s festival is utterly doomed and can’t go ahead

Banning all non-essential company travel now standard practice

Minister for Health Simon Harris using a hand sanitiser at a Dublin hotel. The businesses that face the biggest economic and reputational risks associated with coronavirus are those clustered around the events and meetings industry.  Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Minister for Health Simon Harris using a hand sanitiser at a Dublin hotel. The businesses that face the biggest economic and reputational risks associated with coronavirus are those clustered around the events and meetings industry. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

As the full scale of the economic risks of the coronavirus outbreak become apparent, it is difficult to see how the St Patrick’s festival can possibly go ahead next week, regardless of how the virus situation evolves in coming days. It looks utterly doomed.

The organisers will follow the advice of medical professionals, of course, who so far have not called a halt to the festival and parades. But the Government and tourism authorities will not simply be concerned with the medical risks of virus transmission. There is also significant reputational risk for the State in allowing a mass gathering of up to 500,000 people during a global epidemic, especially when concerns have been raised about such gatherings by the Chinese ambassador to Ireland and others.

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