JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — An annual market event held for the past 37 years in Alaska’s capital city was cancelled because of the coronavirus.

The public market has brought merchants and crowds of shoppers to downtown Juneau since 1983, The Juneau Empire reported Tuesday.

Market organizer Peter Metcalfe announced Monday that the event was canceled because of the pandemic and the potential risk to lives.

“Hundreds of our customers and several of our vendors are elders who are in the demographic most vulnerable to COVID-19,” Metcalfe said in a statement. “The city did us a favor by making the decision easy: we simply cannot stage the event this year.”

The City and Borough of Juneau is using some of the facilities that have traditionally hosted the event for an emergency warming shelter and quarantine and isolation, including the Juneau Arts and Culture Center and Centennial Hall.

The market expanded in recent years to include Elizabeth Peratrovhich Hall and coincided with an artist and authors market at the Alaska State Library, Archives and Museum.

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Last year’s market included 206 vendors from 29 communities in Alaska and the western U.S., Metcalfe said.

Virtual shopping will be available through a website expected to launch by mid-October, Metcalfe said.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.