NEW YORK (WABC) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo has postponed the New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade due to coronavirus concerns.
He made the announcement Wednesday evening after previously only recommending that it be postponed.
The parade, scheduled for Tuesday, would draw approximately 250,000 marchers and 1 to 2 million spectators to Manhattan at a time when officials are trying to reduce large gatherings.
"Today I had several conversations with the organizers of the St. Patrick's Day Parade to determine whether the parade should move forward in light of the evolving coronavirus situation and increased case count in the New York City area," Cuomo said.
"While I know the parade organizers did not make this decision lightly, public health experts agree that one of the most effective ways to contain the spread of the virus is to limit large gatherings and close contacts, and I applaud the parade's leadership for working cooperatively with us," he said. "While the risk to New Yorkers remains low and we want to avoid social and economic disruptions, we have an obligation to take action to contain the spread of this virus."
Parade organizers said the governor's recommendation that the parade be postponed was regrettable but understandable.
"You have to be OK with it, you have to listen to reason," parade president Tommy Smyth said. "You can't just go out and haul your way up the avenue say, 'Hey we're gonna do it whether you like it or not,' you know? You have to be logical, and you have to have the safety of the people of New York in mind."
The Consul-General of Ireland acknowledged there is currently a public health emergency.
"I would certainly say that if postponed for the right reasons, then you move on and look for another date farther in the future, in the next few months," Ciaran Madden said.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson had previously called for postponing the parade.
"Even though it is outdoors, and therefore presumed to be less risky than indoor gatherings, it is a non-essential event and will lead to large crowds of people in close contact," Johnson said. "This is an unnecessary risk. As a city, we need to look at other mass gatherings to determine how we can limit exposure to keep people safe."
It is not clear when it would or could be rescheduled.
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