Cancellations caused by coronavirus impacting local economy

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — For the first time in 73 years, there is not going to be an Azalea Festival and that is going to cause a huge loss for the City of Wilmington.

Coronavirus around the country is causing many events to cancel or postpone.

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In order to prevent the spread of the virus, officials say to socially distance yourself.

Governor Roy Cooper recommended on Thursday to limit events drawing crowds larger than 100.

“The festival has a 50 million dollar economic impact for the community and that’s money that goes right back into our restaurants and to our businesses, to our hotels,” Azalea Festival Executive Director Alison English said. “And without the Azalea Festival this year that’s an economic impact our community won’t have.”

And out of an abundance of caution, people are choosing to stay home rather than do things like go out and eat.

“Obviously less people are going out because more and more people are nervous about the affects,” Platypus and Gnome owner Matthew Danylec said. “So it makes it really tough.”

Local businesses like Platypus and Gnome are suffering.

“We want to be out here for the community to serve great food and drinks to make sure we can make money, pay our bills,” Danylec said.

The owner says the last minute cancellation of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade is causing a big loss.

“We’ve already started prepping, we’ve purchased all the food for what’s supposed to be one of our best weekends out of the year..and know..we don’t even know,” he said. “We’ll probably end up having to throw a lot of it away because I don’t think we’ll be able to sell it all.”

He says if things don’t change soon, it isn’t looking good.

“Something like this could kill a lot of our small businesses,” Danylec said.

Azalea Festival officials and the owner of Platypus and Gnome encourage the support of small businesses during this time to supplement the loss.

Azalea Festival officials also say they are planning more events for the near future to keep the festival spirit. An announcement on those should come in the next few weeks.