Chinese New Year Events Canceled in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai Over Coronavirus Outbreak Fears

All major Chinese New Year events have been canceled in Beijing from Thursday, along with all other large-scale activities, including temple fairs, in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. Several major tourist attractions and public venues have also been temporarily closed, the city's tourism bureau reports.

The government has also canceled two major Chinese New Year events in Hong Kong (the annual Chinese New Year carnival and Lunar New Year Cup) amid the outbreak of the virus, while Shanghai's Disney Resort similarly announced closures.

"Beijing has canceled large-scale activities, including temple fairs, in an effort to prevent and control a novel coronavirus. The municipal bureau of culture and tourism said the move, which goes into effect Thursday, aims to minimize large gatherings of people in the capital," states the Beijing Tourism website, operated by the official Beijing Municipal Culture and Tourism Bureau.

"Citizens shall strengthen the preventative measures and support the decision. We will notify the policy changes with the epidemic development. After organizers will deal effectively with the effect of canceling the large-scale events," the tourism bureau added.

The Spring Festival fairs in Beijing's Ditan Park and Longtan Park, both of which are annual celebrations for Chinese New Year, have been canceled, while several main tourist sites including the Forbidden City complex (also known as the Palace Museum) have been temporarily shut down. Visitors who have already booked tickets to the museum will be refunded online, the tourism website said.

Other major public venues in Beijing that have been closed include the National Museum of China, the National Library of China, the National Art Museum of China, Prince Kung's Mansion, Beijing Auto Museum, Laoshe Old Residence, the Ming Tombs, Juyongguan Great Wall, and Yinshan Pagoda Forest Scenic Area.

"The date of the venues' reopening will be released at a future time," the tourism website states.

The city's Capital Museum in Beijing will remain open during Chinese New Year, "but all public lectures, education programs, and Lunar New Year fairs at the location will no longer be held," according to the tourism website.

Hong Kong's Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Carnival as well as the Lunar New Year Cup, an annual soccer tournament scheduled to take place on Sunday, have been canceled, the government announced.

"It's not appropriate to have crowds of people gathering together, and the organizers agreed," the Hong Kong government's chief secretary for administration, Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, said.

Shanghai's Disney Resort, which had several Chinese New Year-themed events planned at its parks to celebrate the holiday, including a special fireworks display, announced closures on Friday due to the virus.

"In response to the prevention and control of the disease outbreak and in order to ensure the health and safety of our guests and Cast, Shanghai Disney Resort is temporarily closing Shanghai Disneyland, Disneytown including Walt Disney Grand Theatre and Wishing Star Park, starting January 25, 2020. We will continue to carefully monitor the situation and be in close contact with the local government, and we will announce the reopening date upon confirmation," Disney said in a statement on its website.

Those who have purchased a ticket to Shanghai Disneyland, booked a stay at a resort hotel or have tickets online to the Beauty and the Beast Mandarin production will be offered refunds and the company "will introduce the detailed procedure and guidelines via the resort's official platforms as soon as possible," according to the statement.

The latest measures come as millions of people are in lockdown in China, with 10 cities in the Hubei province under travel restrictions following the outbreak of the coronavirus, which began in Wuhan, the capital of the province.

The provincial capital is under severe travel restrictions, with all public transport close both in and out of the city, while restrictions are also in place in the cities of Ezhou, Huanggang, Chibi, Xiantao, Zhejiang, Qianjiang, Huangshi, Xianning and Yichang, CNN reports.

The virus has reportedly reached every province in China, except the remote autonomous regions of Qinghai, Inner Mongolia and Tibet, with nearly 846 infections reported across the globe, according to CNN.

The U.S. State Department has raised its travel warning level for China to a level advising travelers to "Exercise Increased Caution".

"Do not travel to Hubei province, China due to novel coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, China," the department warns on its official website.

"On January 23, 2020, the Department of State ordered the departure of all non-emergency U.S. personnel and their family members. The U.S. government has limited ability to provide emergency services to U.S. citizens in Hubei province.

"Chinese authorities have imposed strict travel restrictions in the area around Wuhan. Travelers should be aware that the Chinese government could prevent them from entering or exiting parts of Hubei province. Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice," it adds.

Beijing Railway Station China 2020
A Chinese woman carries a package as she arrives at Beijing Railway station before boarding a train before the annual Spring Festival on January 21, 2020 in Beijing, China. Getty Images

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has also raised its warning level, advising travelers to "avoid all nonessential travel to Wuhan, China."

"Preliminary information suggests that older adults and people with underlying health conditions may be at increased risk for severe disease from this virus.

"The situation is evolving. This notice will be updated as more information becomes available," the CDC states.