March 13, 2020 / 1:49 PM / 24 days ago

Greece shuts all museums and ruins over coronavirus, including Acropolis

A visitor wears a protective face mask as she walks past the ancient Parthenon temple at the archaeological site of the Acropolis in Athens, Greece, March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Costas Baltas

ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece will close all its museums and archaeological sites, including the entire Acropolis that looms over Athens, until the end of the month due to the impact of the coronavirus, its culture ministry said on Friday.

Greece, with 117 confirmed cases and one fatality by late Thursday, has also canceled public gatherings and shut down schools, theaters, cinemas and gyms.

Concern over the disease has prompted travel restrictions across the globe and has already hurt tourism, an important part of the economy in Greece, which attracted more than 33 million visitors last year. The ruins atop the Acropolis in Athens are among the most visited tourist sites in the world.

Tourist industry officials have said bookings for holiday resorts have declined sharply and occupancy rates in Athens have nosedived to about 10% from 60% and 70% in the same period last year.

Separately, the Hellenic Olympic Committee on Friday decided to suspend the remainder of the Olympic Torch relay through the country to avoid attracting crowds because of the coronavirus.

Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Peter Graff

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