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Photo courtesy of Senator Michael Gianaris' office
Michael Gianaris, Costa Constantinides, and Aravella Simotas with an award recipient at Queens Greek Independence Celebration in 2019.

The annual Queens Greek Independence Day Celebration that was scheduled for Friday, March 13, in Astoria has been canceled to prevent further spread of the coronavirus.

Astoria’s elected officials, Sen. Michael Gianaris, acting Borough President Sharon Lee, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, and Councilman Costa Constantinides made the announcement on Wednesday, March 11.

“Protecting public health must be our top priority and while we do not believe there is any direct threat to the community from hosting this event, the prudent choice is to avoid large public gatherings at this time,” Gianaris said.

Lee said she agreed to cancel it due to the request of the three co-hosts, Gianaris, Simotas and Constantinides.

“We encourage all Queens residents to practice healthy habits of frequent hand-washing and additional guidelines from the City,” Lee said. “We look forward to rescheduling this long-standing, annual tradition of celebrating Greek Independence in the Borough of Families.”

Simotas said that while they haven’t received word of a direct impact to the Astoria community, they want to “minimize any risk of spreading the coronavirus and take precautionary measures.”

“As elected officials, we can’t take any chances with the health of our residents,” she said.

Constantinides said the community must “remain calm, yet vigilant.”

“Though we must cancel this Friday’s festivities, we must still celebrate the Greek values of civic virtue by watching out for our neighbors,” he said.

A date for a rescheduled celebration has not yet been set.

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