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4th Jul, 2022

Shakespeare birthday celebrations still on as organisers monitor coronavirus crisis

Ian Hughes 6th Mar, 2020 Updated: 6th Mar, 2020

THE CORONAVIRUS crisis is being monitored by organisers of the Shakespeare birthday celebrations.

The annual weekend of festivities in the Bard’s home town of Stratford is still scheduled to take place on April 25 and 26.

But as the celebration of the world’s most famous playwright draws visitors from across the globe there is a possibility it could be cancelled if the outbreak worsens.

A spokesperson for Stratford Town Council, which organises the parade, said: “We are monitoring and will act in accordance with government instructions.

“The event attracts primarily local visitors and, at present, there are no plans to cancel it.”

Spiralling costs have already seen this year’s event scaled back to its traditional elements with the flag unfurling ceremony scrapped.

This year will see the return of the parade on the Saturday, where crowds wave the procession through the town led by Shakespeare, and the traditional cradle to the grave procession from the Bard’s childhood home in Henley Street to Holy Trinity Church where he is buried, will take place on the Sunday.

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) and Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) will also be hosting events across the weekend.

Both the RSC and SBT are already closely monitoring coronavirus developments.

RSC executive director Catherine Mallyon told the Observer: “We have a dedicated team monitoring daily the current situation with coronavirus, and we are following the advice of the government and Public Health England and staying in close contact with our relevant industry professional bodies and unions.

“The wellbeing of our staff and our visitors is always our priority, and we have put a series of precautionary measures in place including reminders about the importance of routine hygiene, adding additional soap and alcohol-based hand gel in all our venues, as well as upscaling our normal cleaning activities in our buildings.”

SBT head of sales and business development Debbie Beardall also sought to reassure the charity’s many thousands of visitors.

She said: “We are receiving regular updates through the official tourist board of Great Britain and are advised the risk to the UK population remains low.

“Visitors to any of the Shakespeare family homes in Stratford can be reassured that we are closely following advice given by Public Health England.”

The birthday celebrations date back some 200 years and are held on the weekend closest to the Bard’s purported birthday on April 23.

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