This year’s Geneva motor show has been cancelled due to the continued spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The announcement was made by event organisers after several confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Geneva and other parts of Switzerland. There has been a substantial outbreak of the coronavirus, which originated in China, in northern Italy recently, with cases announced in a number of other European countries.

While organisers initially said the motor show, the biggest event in the automotive calendar, would continue, recent moves by authorities in Geneva and Switzerland to try to limit the spread of Covid-19 led to them finally pull the plug.

Organisers cited “force majeure” when announcing to exhibitors that the event would not go ahead. They also ruled out postponing the event until a later date, noting its size meant that was unfeasible.

Chairman of the Foundation Board Maurice Turrettini said: “We regret this situation, but the health of all participants is our and our exhibitors’ top priority. This is a case of force majeure and a tremendous loss for the manufacturers who have invested massively in their presence in Geneva. However, we are convinced that they will understand this decision.”

The organisers added: “The dismantling of the event will now have to be organised. The financial consequences for all those involved in the event are significant and will need to be assessed over the coming weeks. One thing is certain: tickets already purchased for the event will be refunded. The organisers will communicate about this as soon as possible, via their website.”

On Friday morning, the Swiss government banned large gatherings. In a statement, the cabinet said: “In view of the current situation and the spread of the coronavirus, the Federal Council has categorised the situation in Switzerland as ‘special’ in terms of the Epidemics Act. Large-scale events involving more than 1000 people are to be banned. The ban comes into immediate effect and will apply at least until 15 March.”