Notting Hill Carnival has been cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak, organisers have confirmed.
A statement published on Thursday read: “Like all events around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has meant that Notting Hill Carnival has faced many challenges this year.
“After lengthy consultation with our strategic partners and ur Advisory Council, the board has taken the decision that this year’s carnival will not take place on the streets of Notting Hill as it has done for over 50 years.”
Kensington and Chelsea Council’s leisure chief Councillor Emma Will welcomed the decision to cancel the carnival this year.
“It is a huge shame – so many people have put in so much effort to get carnival ready for 2020, including our own officers here at the council. But it is absolutely the right decision given what the UK and London is currently facing,” she told HuffPost UK.
“It has been very difficult for all those involved, but carnival organisers need to be given real credit for making an early decision on this and following the guidance from health professionals.
“They have put the health of the local community and participants first.”
Carnival’s cancellation presents an opportunity for people to “explore how we can still celebrate carnival in different ways this summer”, Will added.
“Kensington and Chelsea Council is committed in giving logistical and financial support to turn alternative plans for carnival this year into reality. There is no reason why we cannot all bring the true spirit of carnival into our own front rooms,” she added.
The move follows mounting speculation around whether or not the carnival would go ahead as the UK remains on lockdown.
The annual west London event, which saw at least a million revellers in 2019, was scheduled to take place over the August bank holiday.
Last month rumours began to circulate that the event had been postponed as some people misinterpreted a statement from the mas band MaKING Carnival – who said they would not continue planning for carnival in light of the pandemic – as an official statement from the event itself.
This prompted Notting Hill Carnival organisers to issue a statement of clarification later that day.
“Lots of misinformation circulating,” read the statement posted on the @NHCarnivalLDN Twitter account. “NHC 2020 is not cancelled. Please be assured we would be the first to tell you if it were.”
But there had been widespread calls for the carnival to be called off in the interest of public health and safety.
One person tweeted: “As someone who has lived in Kensington and Chelsea all his life, I’m reading that the Notting Hill carnival still has not been cancelled. As you know this event has up to 900,000 people on the streets and it will only take one person to infect us.”
“Every other festival been cancelled apart from Notting Hill Carnival. Just throw in the towel man,” another wrote.
Another person posted: “Large crowds in this climate is just not healthy & its kind of really scary.”