People ‘on edge’ and Venice landmarks shut as Italy tackles coronavirus outbreak

British tourists in Venice have reported that people seem “on edge” as major attractions have been closed amid concerns over the outbreak of Covid-19.

The popular Venice Carnival has been cut short and tourist haunts such as St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge’s Palace may be closed until March.

Shannon Belvin, 22, who is on holiday with her parents, said she was “disappointed” but understood that precautions were necessary.

People wearing carnival costumes and masks gather in St Mark’s Square during carnival celebrations in Venice
People wearing carnival costumes and masks in St Mark’s Square, Venice (Luca Bruno/AP)

“We got here Sunday morning and it didn’t seem half bad, the carnival was going on and it was actually pretty busy,” she told the PA news agency.

“Today in the morning we tried to see the landmarks like St Mark’s Basilica and the Doge museum – literally everything is closed.

“There’s just notices on the doors saying, ‘Closed due to the outbreak of coronavirus,’ or something along those lines, until March 1, so we couldn’t do a thing.”

Ms Belvin, who is from east London, said the family had been told to avoid going to a specific church in Padua, which her mother had wanted to visit, because it was a “coronavirus hotspot”.

“It does seem like people are on edge. I was on a tour and half the boat was wearing masks. There are quite big groups of tourists from east Asia that are all wearing masks,” she said.

“I sneezed and got a darting look from the lady next to me through her mask, which was awkward.

“I’m not going to lie, I’m a bit disappointed but it makes complete sense, they need to contain it somehow.”

The decision to call off Venice Carnival, which would have run until Tuesday, was announced by Veneto regional governor Luca Zaia.

A total of 219 people in Italy have tested positive for the virus and five have died.

It is the largest number of confirmed cases of the disease outside Asia.

All forms of public transport – including boats in Venice – were being disinfected, Mr Zaia said.

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