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Spain's famous bull run festival cancelled over virus

For 5th time in its history, San Fermin festival in city of Pamplona suspended

Alyssa McMurtry   | 21.04.2020
Spain's famous bull run festival cancelled over virus

OVIEDO, Spain

Spain’s massive San Fermin bull run festival has been cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pamplona City Council announced on Tuesday.

The festival, propelled to international fame by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, attracts around 1.45 million visitors to the city of Pamplona every year in July.

“The San Fermin festival cannot be an exception. Like the rest of global and national events, it will be suspended. Until we have a vaccine, this is how it will have to be,” Ana Elizalde, the acting mayor of Pamplona, said in a statement.

“This is not the time for pyrotechnics, running with the bulls, bullfighting or parades,” she added.

Enrique Maya, the mayor, has tested positive for coronavirus and is at home recovering.

In Navarra, the region home to Pamplona, 413 people have died so far from COVID-19 and 4,831 have tested positive for the virus.

This is not the first time that the famous running with the bulls festival has been canceled. In the years 1937 and 1938, it was called off in the midst of the Spanish Civil War. In 1978, it was canceled after a student died in riots related to the ETA terrorist group. In 1997, it was also suspended after ETA assassinated a local politician.

A study by a bullfighting association in 2014 estimated that the economic impact of the festival was around €136 million ($147.3 million).

Spain’s summer months are the most important for the country’s tourism sector, which, besides offering beaches, hosts several summer festivals that draw in millions of tourists from around the world. From music festivals to fiestas that involve large crowds throwing wine or tomatoes at each other, cancellations are set to continue.

According to the National Statistics Institute, 12.3% of Spain’s GDP is generated by the tourism industry. On Monday, the Bank of Spain forecast that the country’s economy could contract this year as much as 13%.

Spain is one of the world’s worst-hit countries by the novel coronavirus. It has registered a total of more than 21,200 deaths and over 204,100 confirmed cases so far.

Since appearing in Wuhan, China, last December, the novel coronavirus has spread to at least 185 countries and regions.

Data compiled by the U.S.’ Johns Hopkins University shows worldwide infections have reached nearly 2.5 million, with the death toll above 171,000, while over 658,000 people have recovered.

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