Billie Eilish poses with the awards for Album Of The Year, Record Of The Year, Best New Artist, Song Of The Year and Best Pop Vocal Album during the 62nd Annual Grammy Awards. Photo: Getty.

The Grammys has been forced to postpone its ceremony at the end of this month due to the surge in Covid-19 cases in Los Angeles, it has been announced. The so-called biggest night in music had been due to take place on January 31, but has a new date of March 14, the Recording Academy said. The Academy, the body which oversees the Grammys, said the raging pandemic in Southern California meant a postponement was "the right thing to do".

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In a joint statement, the Recording Academy and CBS said: "After thoughtful conversations with health experts, our host and artists scheduled to appear, we are rescheduling the 63rd Annual Grammy Awards to be broadcast Sunday, March 14, 2021. The deteriorating Covid situation in Los Angeles, with hospital services being overwhelmed, ICUs having reached capacity, and new guidance from state and local governments have all led us to conclude that postponing our show was the right thing to do."

The statement continued: "Nothing is more important than the health and safety of those in our music community and the hundreds of people who work tirelessly on producing the show."

The Grammys usually take place at the Staples Centre in central Los Angeles, attracting an audience of around 18,000.  Los Angeles County is in the grip of a deadly wave of the virus. On Monday, more than 9,000 new cases were reported, according to official figures. More than 10,800 people have died in the county since the pandemic started - while there have been more than 827,000 total cases reported.

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Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles mayor, said on Sunday a person is being infected every six seconds. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has urged the film and TV industry to pause production amid the latest surge. Los Angeles has imposed a mandatory 10-day quarantine on anyone who travels into the area from outside Southern California, while much of the wider state is under a stay-at-home order.

Beyonce leads the way in nominations ahead of the Grammys, with nine. Taylor Swift, Dua Lipa and Roddy Ricch each earned six nominations.