Limerick's premier festival Riverfest is the latest major event to be postponed due to the coronavirus.
The annual extravaganza that takes place over the May Bank Holiday weekend has been put on ice, following government advice on mass gatherings.
In a statement, Limerick City and County Councile said that high level meetings have been taking place in the council around Riverfest 2020 since the cancellation of the Limerick St Patrick’s Day Parade and Limerick International Band Championship due to concerns about COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on Monday.
Last year more than 120,000 people enjoyed the city’s biggest festival, the majority of them in the Riverfestival Village based around Arthur’s Quay Park.
Due to the nature of Riverfest, in which large numbers gather in Limerick city centre to celebrate and enjoy themselves, Limerick City and County Council organisers have recommended that it now be postponed, meaning it will not take place on the May Bank Holiday weekend this year.
Mayor of the City and County of Limerick Mayor Cllr Michael Sheahan said: “It is disappointing that we have to postpone Riverfest but it is the right decision to make. What is most important now is the health of the people of Limerick, especially those who are elderly and vulnerable to infection. We will look at the possibility of rescheduling the festival later in the year but again this is dependent on COVID-19.”
Chief Executive of Limerick City and County Council Dr Pat Daly said: “The decision to postpone Riverfest 2020 is being done on the most up-to-date public health advice from the Department of Health and an overriding desire not to put the collective health of the people of Limerick and visitors to Limerick at unnecessary risk.”
“Our Management Team is meeting daily to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic and we are following all guidelines and advice given to us by the Department of Health. Everyone should be following this advice.”
“Riverfest, like the St Patrick’s Festival, is an important event for the economy of Limerick from a business, societal and tourist point of view, but the health of the people of Limerick and the nation is paramount at this particular time.”
A date for a re-scheduled Riverfest for later in the year will be announced in due course and is dependent on the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
The cancellation follows in the footsteps of the Great Limerick Run, which has been moved out to October following the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Labour councillor Conor Sheehan said: "I think it’s a sensible course of action. The only thing we can do in this situation is try and slow the spread of this virus. However, it is very disappointing given that Riverfest brings so many visitors and so much money in to Limerick and the local economy and showcases the best our city has to offer. I hope the Council will reorganise Riverfest for another time later in the summer."
It's understood the local authority will also act to council this March's full council meeting of 40 members, which was set to take place at County Hall on Monday, March 23.
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