Yale University cancels commencement exercises amid coronavirus outbreak, impacts local businesses

New Haven

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Yale University has decided to cancel its spring 2020 commencement exercises due to the spread of coronavirus, according to Yale Daily News Thursday. The cancellation not only affecting students and parents, but local businesses near the university.

University President Peter Salovey announced the decision in a University-wide email Wednesday afternoon. Commencement was originally scheduled for May.

Yale Daily News says the University will find “alternate ways” to celebrate the class of 2020’s achievements in May.

Salovey wrote, “Know that we will be welcoming you back to campus to celebrate your achievements when this crisis is behind us.”

The cancellation leaving some businesses in the area high and dry.

Yorkside Pizza owner George Koutroumanis’s business sits on the Yale University campus. He says his business depends on the influx of visitors during a Yale commencement.

All the students and a lot of people leave but the commencement replaces it so it keeps balance. So like all your students are gone and all your sporting events are done but all the parents come in.

George Koutroumanis/ Owner, Yorkside Pizza

Mayor Justin Elicker says the revenue loss is something businesses across the Elm City now face, saying, “I think this is one of many examples where the city is being hit hard economically.”

For Yorkside Pizza, it’s the difference of up to 25% in business.

“We have a community around us which is Yale shut down and we have the next round of community which is all the neighborhood housing and everybody that lives in the area,” Koutroumanis said.

He added, “It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna be a tough few months to make it through because I don’t even know if they’ll do the summer program this year.”

For this business, despite the commencement cancellation, they say they will fight to stay open and keep a sense of normalcy for those who support them every day.

We’re trying to keep it together, keep our name out there. Our lights are on for everyone and they’ll stay on as long as they can.

George Koutroumanis/ Owner, Yorkside Pizza

Yale says they plan to celebrate their graduates through alternative, web-based activities. The university is exploring opportunities to gather at a later date.

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