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A stall at IACF's Runway Monday event held last November. The one-day fair, held eight times a year on the runway strip next to the Newark Air Museum and the Newark & Nottinghamshire Showground, finishes by 2pm

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Runway Monday at Newark on June 29 is scheduled to be its first fair since the start of the Covid-19 lockdown which began in March.

In the latest government “limited and cautious” easing of rules on social gatherings, issued on May 25, outdoor retail such as markets and car showrooms can open from Monday, June 1.

However public attendance at ticketed events, such as those run by IACF, have not yet been given the go-ahead to proceed.

“We anticipate Runway Monday will be our first show as lockdown rules ease,” said Will Thomas, managing director of IACF, “though that may change depending on government advice. It’s completely outdoors and it’s easy to move date-wise because of its nature.”

IACF says the Peterborough Festival of Antiques will not run on its rescheduled date in July, as it is mainly an indoor event and event organiser association rules stipulate a two-metre distance for stall-holders.

“The East of England Showground is big, but events trade bodies have indicated organisers might need to have two metres minimum between stalls and that wouldn’t be a viable arrangement at Peterborough,” Thomas said.

As IACF awaits the next government advice update, its other major June events – the Shepton Mallet Antiques & Collectors Fair and the Newark and Ardingly International Antiques & Collectors Fairs – have been cancelled.

‘Pent up demand’

However, the fair organiser is planning to proceed with its autumn schedule, with a full September diary and the bi-annual Peterborough event running as planned in October.

Thomas said that dealers he and his team have spoken to “want to trade again and are raring to go. They know there’s pent-up demand out there and want to get back into action”.

Since lockdown started on March 23, IACF has supported its regular dealers with a two-month free listing on the portal it owns,

“We had a big take-up of this offer,” Thomas said, “while promoting our regulars as ‘dealer of the day’ on Instagram. We’ve been doing everything in our power to manage this very difficult situation and look forward to returning to a regular schedule of fairs as soon as possible.”

New normal

Thomas added that as fairs and markets “return to some kind of normality”, health and safety precautions such as extra cleaning of venues and social distancing measures “are something that not just our industry but the entire economy will have to live with for the foreseeable future”.

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