Auschwitz closes to visitors over coronavirus fears
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Auschwitz closes to visitors over coronavirus fears

Memorial and camp to remain shut until at least March 25; March of the Living already postponed

The ruins of gas chambers and crematoria at the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau, January 28, 2020. (Yaakov Schwartz/ Times of Israel)
The ruins of gas chambers and crematoria at the former Auschwitz II-Birkenau, January 28, 2020. (Yaakov Schwartz/ Times of Israel)

The Auschwitz Memorial and the site of the former Nazi camp have been closed to visitors due to concerns over the coronavirus.

The memorial announced on Wednesday that it would shut down until March 25.

The announcement came on the heels of the decision by the Polish government to close all museums and cultural institutions, as well as schools and universities, through March 25 in order to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Poland has at least 26 confirmed cases.

Last month, the memorial called on organizers of trips to the site to refrain from bringing visitors from countries that have been affected by the coronavirus. And earlier this week, the March of the Living announced that it had postponed this year’s event.

“After consulting with the relevant health bodies and officials, it is with a heavy heart that we are forced to announce the postponement of this year’s March of the Living in Poland,” March of the Living World Chair, Dr. Shmuel Rosenman, said in a statement.

People participating in the March of the Living at the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp site in Poland, on May 2, 2019. (Yossi Zeliger/Flash90

“Our primary concern is the health of the many participants and the Holocaust survivors who would be joining them. Given that this is an international event involving 110 delegations from around the world, we have a responsibility to take precautionary measures in accordance with the guidelines given by authorities in various countries,” he added.

A rescheduled date for the annual commemoration, which was originally set for April 21 at the Auschwitz-Birkenau State Museum, has yet to be announced.

Last month, Israel’s education minister, Rafi Peretz, ordered the cancellation of all high school trips to Holocaust memorial sites in Poland due to the global spread of the coronavirus. Over 3,000 students had been set to travel to Poland in the coming weeks.

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