Large venue closures, sports league suspensions: US reels as coronavirus leads to mass disruptions

A tour group looks out over the Capitol Visitor Centre on the last day of tours before the US Capitol closes due to coronavirus concerns in Washington. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON - Disneyland will close. This year's March Madness basketball tournaments are no more. And Broadway has gone dark.

The reach of the coronavirus pandemic into Americans' daily lives and entertainment options deepened on Thursday (March 12) as famous entertainment locations shuttered and major sports leagues shut down their seasons, part of a growing wave of ever stricter measures to curb the spread of the virus in the United States.

School closures also broadened across the country, where the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases surpassed 1,500 as of Thursday evening.

Ohio announced public and private schools would close for three weeks beginning Monday (March 16), while Maryland said its state schools would close for two weeks.

Authorities in Kentucky and Georgia recommended school closures but fell short of mandating them, although an increasing number of school districts and universities are already taking action to stop classes or move them online.

The Disneyland theme park in Anaheim, California will close from this weekend until the end of the month as a precautionary measure, its fourth ever closure in history after shuttering in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Universal Studios Hollywood, also in California, will likewise close until the end of the month. Both theme parks made their decision following state governor Gavin Newsom's announcement that gatherings of more than 250 people should be cancelled to slow the spread of coronavirus.

In Manhattan, Broadway theatres went dark as all productions were shut down on Thursday, following the ordered closure of large venues which can hold 500 or more people. They will remain shuttered until April 17.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared a state of emergency on Thursday as the number of cases in the city rose to 95, up from 42 the day before.

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The Smithsonian Institute's 19 museums in Washington DC and two in New York City, as well as its National Zoo, will also close indefinitely beginning this weekend.

The National Hockey League, Major League Soccer, and the Association of Tennis Professionals suspended their seasons on Thursday, joining the National Basketball Association, which shuttered its season on Wednesday after two players tested positive for the coronavirus.

The National Collegiate Athletic Association cancelled the rest of its March Madness inter-college men's and women's basketball games, despite the popular sporting tournaments typically drawing millions of viewers.

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