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story.lead_photo.caption People wait for a 9 p.m. ghost tour Friday, March 6, 2020, outside the Missouri State Penitentiary. The penitentiary tours, later to be temporarily suspended again in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, had resumed for the first time since the May 2019 tornado damaged the Jefferson City property. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / News Tribune.

Due to concerns surrounding the spread of the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19, the Jefferson City Convention and Visitors Bureau announced Monday it will suspend tours of the historic Missouri State Penitentiary from March 18 until April 5.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson advised Missourians on Sunday to follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines and cancel all public gatherings of 50 or more people, and avoid public gatherings as much as possible.

MSP, which typically draws thousands of visitors each year, just reopened for its tour season March 1. The tour season was also affected by the May 2019 tornado last year.

"Our primary concern is for the health and safety of our guests and staff," CVB Executive Director Diane Gillespie said in a news release. "It is important we do our part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19."

MSP staff will contact people who have reservations to reschedule tours, and regular updates will be posted via the MSP website, social media pages and email.

For more news about the COVID-19 coronavirus, access the News Tribune Health section
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