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COVID-19 scares visitors away from Dracula's Castle this Halloween

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COVID-19 scares visitors away from Dracula's Castle this Halloween
Copyright  Vadim Ghirda/Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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As if COVID-19 wasn't scary enough, a few hardy souls are venturing to Dracula's castle in Romania this Halloween.

Bran Castle has only a slight connection with the 1897 novel Dracula by the Irish writer Bram Stoker, but it would still attract thousands of visitors in a normal year. But this year the number have plummeted.

Nestled in the heart of Transylvania, the castle is linked to Vlad the Impaler who was the main inspiration for Bram Stoker's infamous character.

Vlad was a real-life prince who stayed there in the 15th century and had a cruel habit of using stakes to impale his victims.

The novel tells the story of a vampire called Count Dracula and his attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood.

It's been the subject of numerous films and TV shows and the legend would normally bring in thousands of visitors to the castle every year.

"It is worse and worse. No foreign tourists or maybe only a few. Even for Hallowe'en, there are no big expectations or we are waiting for a decision to close the shops," said souvenir shop owner Adriana.

But the castle's marketing manager, Alexandru Priscu, explained how this Halloween may not be as terrifying as the last.

There will be no Halloween party held in the castle's courtyard.

Visitors are only allowed on a castle tour while following the coronavirus restrictions: using hand sanitiser, wearing a mask, and keeping a safe distance of two metres.

"We've given up to all sorts of skeletons and all sorts of death drawings and anything like this," he said.

So the skeletons will remain in their cupboards, but a trickle of visitors are still looking for a fright.

"We are sorry to see that in such a beautiful part of Romania, so full of history and meaning for us, as Romanians, that there are so very few visitors because of the virus situation, but we enjoyed it," said Raluca Focsaneanu.

Bran Castle was originally a military fortress, strategically set on a highway that links Transylvania to southern Romania.

Vlad the Impaler did not own the castle but is believed to have used it briefly during his incursions in Transylvania.

He is also believed to have been imprisoned in the castle for two months in 1462 when he was captured by a rival Hungarian king.