Empire State Building closes observation deck on coronavirus fears

The Empire State Building and New York skyline are seen while a public park is shuttered due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Hoboken, New Jersey, U.S., March 16, 2020. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

(Reuters) - The Empire State Building has closed its observation deck, which is visited by nearly four million people every year, to reduce the risk of coronavirus transmissions, the owner of the iconic Manhattan landmark said on Tuesday.

The 102nd floor observatory received an overhaul last October as part of the Art Deco skyscraper’s $165 million renovation.

The closure comes amid growing calls for “social distancing” as a means to stem the spread of the virus, which has infected over 182,000 people, including more than 4,600 in the United States, and upended the lives of millions.

The pandemic has crushed global travel due to restrictions and lockdowns, and prompted the closure of several parks and tourist attractions around the world.

In the United States, Disney theme parks have been closed, while New York’s Times Square, not very far from the Empire State Building, wore a deserted look on Tuesday.

Empire State Realty Trust, which owns the 89-year old building, once the tallest in the world, made $131.2 million in revenue from the observations decks in the last fiscal year.

A smaller observatory on the building’s 86th floor is also closed, the firm said.

Reporting by Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty