MONTREAL -- Montreal's St. Patrick's Parade, the longest continuously running parade of its kind, has been postponed due to concerns about spreading COVID-19.

The announcement was made Thursday afternoon by the United Irish Societies and followed shortly on the heels of Quebec Premier Francois Legault's earlier announcement banning all public gatherings of more than 250 people.

The St. Patrick's Parade in Montreal has been held yearly since 1842 and been hosted by the UIS since 1929. It had been scheduled to be held Sunday, March 22 this year.

"There is a responsibility to our members, our community and our history and ensure the continuity of this event and we take this responsibility very seriously," said Kevin Tracey, spokesman for the UIS.

"With today's press conference held by the Premier and in collaboration with the City of Montreal we have both deemed it in the best interests of health and safety,  Parade participants,  and the general public to postpone Montreal's 197th St Patrick's Parade. 

"We will be sure to keep all informed of our future plans."

No new date has been announced.

Montreal joins Toronto, New York City, Chicago, Boston and Dublin in calling off St. Patrick's parades.