Seville cancels famed Easter parades over coronavirus, again

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MADRID (Reuters) - Seville on Tuesday cancelled its traditional Easter processions, calling off Spain's most spectacular Holy Week parades with three months' notice because of the coronavirus.

With some 1.9 million registered infections and just over 50,000 deaths, Spain's pandemic has been one of Europe's worst. The country began vaccinating against the virus on Sunday and hopes to inoculate up to 20 million people by June.

But the Andalusian city's archbishop, Juan Jose Asenjo, said the predicted development of the disease meant that going ahead with the seven-day event starting next year in late March was too risky.

"The persistently high levels of the disease incidence, together with the outlook for vaccine distribution still advise in coming months ... against the concentration of large groups and their free circulation," he wrote on the archdiocese's website.

Tens of thousands of people usually attend Seville's parades, where centuries-old brotherhoods of the faithful carry heavy, flower-covered floats topped with effigies of Christ or the Virgin Mary, led by "Nazareno" penitents in distinctive pointy hoods.

Seville also cancelled this year's Easter processions for the same reason, but with much shorter notice on March 14, the day the country went into lockdown.

Holy Week in the Christian calendar starts on Palm Sunday, which commemorates Christ's entry into Jerusalem. The parades conclude a week later on the eve of Easter Sunday, which celebrates his resurrection.

(Reporting by Inti Landauro; editing by Andrei Khalip and John Stonestreet)