The Coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, has now been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization, affecting the worldwide population. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), coronaviruses "are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans. In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19."
Over the past couple of days, the number of cases in the United States have gone up, causing several states to go into a State of Emergency. Many cities are cancelling major events like parades and rallies and many schools are canceling classes. So how should you prepare? And what changes should you expect to over the next few weeks that could affect your spring break and other plans?
Here's everything you need to know about upcoming closures and cancellations due to the Coronavirus outbreak.
While it might seem like a totally scary time right now, know that all of these cancellations and precautions are for the good of the public, as officials work to stop the spread of COVID-19. To help prevent the spread of this virus and stay healthy, here are some recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- "Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing."
- "Stay home if you are sick, except to get medical care."
- "Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person. Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) and respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes."
And here's how you can plan ahead for cancellations and changes to your plans in the upcoming weeks.
If you're planning to travel for spring break, you may need to rethink your plans. Depending on where you're planning to visit, some venues, restaurants, and other public places might be completely closed. For example, Broadway shows in NYC are officially closed until April 12. In addition, restaurants and other facilities may be unable to take in as many patrons as they would like, due to government restrictions and/or if they’re short-staffed, so expect longer wait times and possibly not being able to go to some of your favorite spots.
If you're traveling internationally, depending on where you go, there could be specific lockdowns and other procedures in place. There may also be travel restrictions. For example, travel from Europe to the United States is currently restricted for non-citizens. There might also be a possibility that your flight gets cancelled due to low number of travelers, so you should prepare yourself for any sudden changes.
If you don't feel comfortable traveling, but have already booked flights and hotels, contact the airlines and places you're staying ASAP to reschedule or get a refund. Many already have policies in place to help you in this situation. For example, JetBlue won't charge any fees for cancelling or rescheduling your flight. Meanwhile, Marriott Hotels aren't offering refunds unless you're coming from or staying in a particular country impacted by the virus.
It shouldn't be too surprising to see some theme parks closing their doors due to the Coronavirus. If you're hoping to go to one on a specific day, check their website before making the trip. For example, Disneyland will be closed until April. Note that if you're making big trips to bigger parks (like Disney World or Universal Studios), they are likely closed too, however, some of their facilities are still open. For example, hotels in Disney World and Universal Studios in Orlando are still open, even though the actual parks are closed. If you're not comfortable with traveling, several places (including the two resorts above) are offering to reschedule your trip without any extra fees.
Concerts and Festivals
Many concerts and shows are getting either cancelled or postponed due to the Coronavirus. Some artists are preemptively canceling tour dates. Live Nation is also cancelling their tour roster, which includes artists like Billie Eilish and Post Malone. Refer back to your original point of purchase (Ticketmaster, Telecharge, AXS, etc.) to figure out rescheduled dates or refunds.
Larger festivals have also been postponed, including Coachella and Ultra Music Festival. However, because they're not cancelled, you might not be able to request a refund yet. The organizers will have more information listed on their websites.
Similar to concerts and festivals, sporting events have also been cancelled or closed to the public. Currently, there are no plans to cancel the Olympics, however, that could possibly change in the future. Several leagues have already cancelled their upcoming games, including the NBA and NHL. Others have been postponed, like MLB. Some bigger events have been entirely cancelled (like the World Figure Skating Championships and upcoming USWNT Soccer games) or played without an audience (NASCAR games).
Much like festivals and other large events, several conventions have already been cancelled like YALLWEST and Emerald City Comic Con. Keep an eye out on the convention's home page and socials for info about cancellations, alternative events, and refunds.
TV and Movies
If you haven't heard yet, some shows have already paused production due to Coronavirus concerns (including Riverdale). While it hasn't been confirmed whether or not this will push back episodes, it should be expected that some shows might take some additional hiatuses in order to give the cast and crew enough time to recover. Shows that include a studio audience are starting to film without them (including The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and the Ellen Degeneres Show) or are pushing back taping days.
In addition, many movie premieres (like Mulan's London premiere) have been halted due to the Coronavirus, with a number of films getting pushed back until later on the year (such as No Time to Die). While this is pretty upsetting, take this time to check out your favorite streaming services and possibly see something new.
Several schools have already closed and moved to online learning. Depending on your institution, you might have to use a certain service to either video into your lessons or submit assignments. If your school hasn't closed down yet, expect possible changes over the next couple of weeks.
If you're in college, there's a chance that you will have to go home, if you dorm. Make sure to check in with your institution to see which classes (like labs or art courses) will still be done in person. If you need equipment, take a close look at renting options and what alternatives you can use to continue to do your projects and assignments.
If you live on campus, you should see about possibly getting a refund, depending on your school. For example, SUNY and CUNY schools are going online-only for the entire semester, prompting students to ask for refunds for dorming if they don't expect to stay on campus. If you have to stay on campus or need any on-campus facilities to stay open, contact your RA and student affairs to make sure you have everything you need.
While it might seem like there's still plenty of time left before prom and graduation, your school could possibly make some changes to big events like those if the virus continues to spread.
Smaller Events and Private Events
It's hard to make a complete list of everything that is shutting down in the near future. Your best bet is to keep an eye out on a location or event's website to make sure it's not cancelled or rescheduled. This could include book signings or special restaurant events that you might have tickets to.
For private events, contact the organizer to see if it's still happening. Things like weddings, birthdays, or other milestone events might be taking place depending on the number of people attending. However, there could also be a change of venue or a possible cancellation happening, so it's better to stay on top of things and be 100 percent sure before changing any plans.
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