The Pilbara’s Karijini Experience was the latest of the region’s tourism drawcards to be scrapped last week because of the coronavirus emergency. It comes after the Federal Government placed a restriction on all mass-gatherings of more than 500 people to stop the spread of COVID-19. The event, which comprises five days of concerts, cultural workshops and tours, was due to be held next month and headlined by indigenous NSW artist Thelma Plum, who recently tested positive to the virus. Karijini Experience event manager Sonia Powell said the decision to cancel the experience centred on the risk to traditional owners and elders. “If that virus got into a generation of elders, it could wipe out so much history and knowledge in one fell swoop,” she said. Ms Powell said the event would not be rescheduled for later this year because the experience was used as a lead-in to the tourist season. “We time our event to be the start of the tourist run, so people can come up to the north stay at our event, head up to Broome through Karratha, and up to Kununurra,” she said. Karijini acting chief executive Silvia Winkler said it was the first time the event had ever been cancelled since its 2013 inception. “It was a really tough decision to make because we know what it means to our Aboriginal traditional owners and corporations that sponsor and support the event,” she said. “We knew it would be quite a loss, but at the end of the day, the health concerns overwhelm that.” Ms Powell said all ticket holders were expected to be refunded by the end of last week. The event joins a growing list of events being cancelled across the Pilbara, as the region continues to feel the impact of the disease. The Pitter Pat Productions performance of Dick Whittington in Karratha has being postponed due to the virus, while the Tambrey Centre placed a limit on the number of people allowed to enter the venue and postponed its weekly live entertainment. In Port Hedland, several key events have been called off, including Welcome to Hedland, the Mother’s Day Classic and the Melbourne International Comedy Festival Roadshow. Ticket sales for all upcoming movie screenings at the Matt Dann Theatre and Cinema would be capped to 100, and a final decision regarding the Spinifex Spree and North West Festival would be made in the coming weeks. Town of Port Hedland Commissioner Fred Riebeling said the cancellations would be disappointing to many residents. In Onslow, the Keepers Morning Tea, Easter Sunday Egg Hunt and Harmony Day Dive-in Movie have all been cancelled. Pannawonica’s Woody’s World Community Picnic was canned, while the Festival of Sports Community Sundowners in Paraburdoo and Tom Price were also called off. Shire of Ashburton president Kerry White said that in line with the Federal Government response to the ban on all non-essential public gatherings of more than 500 people, the Shire needed to act in the best interest of public safety. “All Shire events scheduled from March 16 until April 16 are postponed or cancelled until further notice,” she said. In the Shire of East Pilbara, the Movies in the Square scheduled for March 22 and March 28 have been cancelled and the Newman Chamber of Commerce and Industry has rescheduled its Business Excellence Awards, set for April 4, to a later date in the year.