Many were hit by the government’s announcement on September 22 that events in conference centres and exhibition halls in England will not be able to take place this autumn. Until then venues had been expecting to reopen from October 1.
Two major cancellations had preceded the prime minister’s address.
One was the Winter Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, which was scheduled for November 3-8. In a message to exhibitors on Tuesday morning last week, organisers Clarion Events wrote that plans were well advanced but “in light of the resurgence of Covid 19, it is with great sadness we have taken the decision today not to go ahead with the fair”.
It added: “The right level of visitors to achieve the volume of sales to make it a profitable event for you can’t be achieved.”
The Art & Antiques for Everyone Fair also called off its winter staging – the third NEC show to have been cancelled this year.
Fair organiser Dan Leyland of MAD Events said: “Unfortunately the evolving situation has forced us to cancel. People in Birmingham, Solihull and other parts of the country are currently undergoing a difficult time with the virus.”
The organisers of The Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair scheduled from October 22-25 at Battersea Evolution took the decision to cancel the fair last Friday.
A statement said:“After Tuesday’s government announcements, the team has investigated every possible avenue to remain on track. However, further local developments in the London region have meant that for the safety of exhibitors, staff and visitors, it has become untenable to proceed.”
For many events, the chief reason for cancelling is the loss of a venue.
Adams Antiques Fairs uses the Royal Horticultural Halls which has called off all its events until further notice, while The Northern Antiques Fair, due to open this week, was hit by the NHS extending its contract with its venue, Harrogate Convention Centre, for the Nightingale Hospital located there.
Other cancellations include the Frock Me Vintage Fashion Fair, which runs at Chelsea Old Town Hall.
Some fairs were still waiting to hear from their venues as ATG went to press.
Nevertheless, a few indoor events were still going ahead. Jane Alexander of Dovehouse Antiques Fairs is holding her event at the Dorking Halls in Surrey on Sunday, October 18, after the venue re-confirmed availability last week.
“We will be using all three halls at Dorking to comply with social distancing and mitigate some of the loss of stand space,” said Alexander.
Outdoor events such as showground fairs are unaffected by the new announcement.
The new restrictions announced on September 22 by prime minister Boris Johnson also mean face coverings must be worn by staff in shops and galleries. This step has been taken in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Exemptions will continue under these new obligations.
Auction house, antiques centres, shops and galleries do not have to implement track and trace systems unless they are hosting an event (eg a private viewing).
Also announced last week, chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled details of a new Job Support Scheme to replace the ‘furlough scheme’. The new scheme, to begin in November, was part of a series of new measures announced on September 24.