Beijing bans birthday parties and other get-togethers to curb coronavirus spread

February 5, 2020, 12:45 PM UTC

China’s capital barred people from gathering for meals, celebrating birthdays and holding banquets in an attempt to curb the spread of the deadly new coronavirus.

Restaurants and caterers are not allowed to serve groups of people and should cancel or postpone any such events immediately, local authorities said at a briefing on Wednesday. The order also includes any holiday celebrations or graduation parties, it said.

The city is the latest to stop people from sharing meals with each other, which is one way the virus that has killed almost 500 people can spread. China has gone to extreme measures to contain the epidemic, including quarantining more than 50 million people and extending the annual Lunar New Year holiday.

Sichuan province — known internationally for its hotpot made with peppercorns from the region — banned dinner gatherings from Jan. 25. Shaanxi, which borders the Hubei province where the virus originated, did the same on Jan. 27.

The number of total confirmed cases of coronavirus in mainland China rose to 24,324 as of Feb. 4, according to the National Health Commission. The death toll is at 490, it said in a statement.

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