Edinburgh’s August festivals cancelled over coronavirus

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LONDON — For the first time in over 70 years, a series of festivals that transform Edinburgh into the world’s leading cultural destination every August are not going ahead as planned due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic, the organizers said Wednesday.

The five festivals, namely the Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Edinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh International Festival and Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, comprise over 5,000 events across Scotland’s capital each summer, gathering a combined audience of more than 4.4 million and over 25,000 artists, writers and performers from more than 70 countries.

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon said the cancellation was “heartbreaking, but the right decision”.

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“In taking this difficult decision now, everyone involved in the festivals, from staff to spectators, will be able to fully focus on their health and wellbeing which is critical during this time of great uncertainty,” said Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture Fiona Hyslop.

“The Scottish government will work with the festivals and all partners to ensure they can build on their previous success and return to the stage in 2021,” she added.

Also on Wednesday, the Wimbledon tennis tournament 2020 has been cancelled for the first time since World War II due to the coronavirus epidemic. The 134th Championships will instead be staged from June 28 to July 11 next year.

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According to the Department of Health and Social Care, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Britain reached 29,474 as of Wednesday morning, an increase of 4,324 in 24 hours.

As of Tuesday afternoon, of those hospitalised in the country who tested positive for novel coronavirus, 2,352 have died, up 563 over the same time on the previous day, said the department.

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