For three weeks a year, Melbourne is the funniest place on the planet. But not this year. The Melbourne International Comedy Festival has announced it is cancelling its 2020 event, which was due to begin on March 25, due to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Following the Prime Minister’s announcement about non-essential mass gatherings, we have made the very difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Melbourne International Comedy Festival,” said festival director Susan Provan in a statement, who added the team was “devastated”.

“Our primary concern is the health and welfare of our artists and participants, staff and audiences. Cancelling the Festival is heartbreaking but the only decision possible to support the community’s efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).”

It's not yet clear if the Melbourne Comedy Festival Roadshow, intended to run in April, will go ahead.

The cancellation of MICF follows the Australian government's announcement advising people not to attend or put on non-essential public gatherings of more than 500 people, including arts festivals, beginning Monday.

The 2020 festival program included 640 shows.

On Friday the Australian Grand Prix was cancelled, and the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival announced it was postponing the event.

For a live list of events cancelled or postponed due to concerns around coronavirus, see Broadsheet's regularly updated wrap.