Civic institutions in cities such as Venice are closed due to an outbreak of Covid-19 in northern Italy. Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/franganillo/35938423121

Coronavirus outbreak shuts museums and galleries across northern Italy

Geraldine Kendall Adams, 26.02.2020
Cultural events also disrupted as virus arrives in Europe
Museums and galleries in several Italian cities are closed this week following an outbreak of the coronavirus in the north of the country.  

All civic instututions in towns and cities including Venice, Milan and Turin have been ordered to shut to contain the spread of the virus, with more than 300 cases confirmed in the country so far. A total of seven regions across northern Italy are affected: Lombardy, Piedmont, Veneto, Emilia-Romagna, Liguria, Trentino-Alto Adige, and Friuli-Venezia Giulia. 

The unprecedented shutdown will last for at least a week, according to media reports. The Venice Carnival was forced to end early this week, while in London, a press conference for the Venice Biennale Architettura 2020 festival was cancelled and streamed online instead.
 
The arrival of Covid-19 in Europe, where cases have also been confirmed in Austria, Croatia and Switzerland, may lead to the closure of other public institutions in the coming weeks and months. 

In China and Hong Kong, many cultural institutions are closed and a number of new museum openings and major exhibitions have been delayed since the virus started spreading at the start of the year. The Chinese government has directed museums to show their exhibitions online instead. 

National institutions in Japan are also closed, while 24 cultural institutions in South Korea have been shuttered. 

The chief medical advisor for England released guidance this week urging travellers returning to the UK from several affected countries to quarantine themselves for 14 days. The UK government has also published guidance for employers and businesses on preventing the spread of the virus in the workplace. A public awareness campaign will be launched in the coming weeks.

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