UPDATE 3/24/2020: According to Vogue, the Costume Institute’s 2020 exhibition, “About Time: Fashion and Duration,” which normally opens in May, will be postponed until late October and will run until early February 2021. There is still no rescheduled date for the 2020 Met Gala. “The timing of the 2020 Met Gala is still under discussion,” Nancy Chilton, the chief external relations officer of the Costume Institute said in a statement to The Cut. “As we have shared, the Museum will remain closed to the public and staff until July 1, based on what we are hearing from the CDC and city, state, and federal leaders.”
The Met Gala won’t happen on the first Monday in May this year.
As the United States continues to implement unprecedented precautionary measures amid the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Vogue‘s annual fashion event would be postponed indefinitely as a result of new CDC guidelines.
According to a Met spokesperson, the news was announced in an internal memo sent to Met staffers this afternoon. The museum decided that “in deference to this guidance, all programs and events through May 15 will be canceled or postponed,” including the Gala, Vogue reports. In addition, the Met “will remain closed through Saturday, April 4.”
Shortly after the news broke, Vogue editor-in-chief and Met Gala chairwoman Anna Wintour made her own statement about the gala.
“One day that will not arrive on schedule will be the opening of the Costume Institute’s exhibition, About Time,” Wintour said. “Due to the unavoidable and responsible decision by the Metropolitan Museum to close its doors, About Time, and the opening night gala, will be postponed to a later date. In the meantime, we will give you a preview of this extraordinary exhibition in our forthcoming May issue.”
The first Met Gala was held in 1948 as a benefit dinner, and was not pegged to a particular exhibition. From 1948 to 1971, it was held offsite at the Waldorf Astoria or the Rainbow Room, according to CNN. It was canceled in 1963, following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and again in 2002, following the 9/11 attacks.
As of Sunday, March 15, the Center of Disease Control made an unprecedented recommendation, advising canceling or postponing in-person events with more than 50 people for eight weeks throughout the United States.
“Large events and mass gatherings can contribute to the spread of COVID-19 in the United States via travelers who attend these events and introduce the virus to new communities,” the CDC said in a statement. “Examples of large events and mass gatherings include conferences, festivals, parades, concerts, sporting events, weddings, and other types of assemblies. These events can be planned not only by organizations and communities but also by individuals.”
“This recommendation is made in an attempt to reduce introduction of the virus into new communities and to slow the spread of infection in communities already affected by the virus,” they added.
Just last week, Nancy Chilton, the chief external relations officer of the Costume Institute, said fashion’s biggest night, which was scheduled for May 4, was still happening.
“We are proceeding as planned and look forward to a wonderful evening,” Chilton said, according to The Cut. However, she noted, “We will of course continue to keep a close eye on the situation.”
On March 12, it was announced that all three Met locations, including the Met Fifth Avenue (where the gala is held), the Met Breuer and the Met Cloisters, will be closed until further notice to “support New York City’s effort to contain the spread of COVID-19.”
When the closures were announced, there was no mention of the Met Gala, however shortly after, Chilton said all future events were being reviewed.
“Right now all museum events are cancelled through April 3. Given the uncertain public health environment, we will review on a rolling basis which museum events beyond April 3 will be cancelled or postponed,” said Chilton, according to The Cut. “We are hoping for the best, but public health and safety are our first priorities.”
The Met Gala was set to be co-hosted by Louis Vuitton artistic director Nicolas Ghesquière, Vogue‘s Anna Wintour, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Emma Stone and Meryl Streep and center around the theme, “About Time: Fashion and Duration.”
As of Monday morning, at least 36 states have announced school closures, the Today show reported, including New York City.
Many other major events have been either postponed or canceled as a result of the coronavirus outbreak including the ACM Awards, Kids’ Choice Awards, GLAAD Media Awards, Coachella, SXSW and more. A growing list of retailers have temporarily closed stores, like Nike, Gap, Apple, Urban Outfitters and Ulta. Leaders across the country have implemented restrictions on nightlife, restaurants, bars, gyms and beaches as they continue to urge Americans to self-isolate.
These “social distancing” moves are in an attempt to slow down the spread of the coronavirus, which experts say can be asymptomatic during its 5-14 day incubation period.
On Friday March 13, President Donald Trump declared a national emergency — “two very big words” — in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic. He said that declaration would unlock about $50 billion in funding to aid the local, state and federal response to the virus.
At present, there are now at least 2,195 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the United States. 50 people in the U.S. have died from corona-virus related illness, mostly in Washington state.
As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.