Irish Shows Association issue new advice as 43 events are cancelled due to Covid-19
43 Irish agricultural shows have been cancelled for this year as the Covid-19 pandemic grips the country.
The Irish Shows Association has said it is very aware that these are "unprecedented and difficult times" for members and indeed for sponsors.
"None of us could have anticipated the situation with COVID-19 and the repercussions this would have for society as a whole. We have been closely monitoring the situation as it unfolded over the last weeks and have been liaising with the various government agencies for advice, which has been relayed to our members regularly. Up to now, 43 of our member shows had taken the decision to cancel for 2020 with our support," a statement read.
"Given the updates from the government and the health authorities, we feel that it is now time to issue further advice and offer some clarity in this time of great uncertainty for our members and our exhibitors. A meeting of the National Executive Board of the Irish Shows Association took place by video conference on Tuesday, April 14. It was the considered opinion of the board that the current, necessary restrictions around social distancing and mass gatherings will continue for some time.
"We are also cognisant of the fact that many of our show volunteers are in vulnerable groups and that our sponsors have been hit hard by the current situation. For this reason, we are recommending to all our member shows not to run their shows or any
public events until such time as the safety of their members and the general public can be ensured and restrictions on social distancing are lifted.
"The Irish Shows Association takes public safety very seriously and will be bound by the recommendations and advice of the public health authorities and the relevant government departments. With the cancellation of shows, we have taken the decision not to print our annual guidebook this year. We had postponed its production in March to allow us time to see how the situation would evolve. We also have taken the decision that it will not be possible to run our all-Ireland championship series for 2020.
"We thank the sponsors and host shows and hope to welcome all of these prestigious competitions back to our calendar for 2021.
"We realise that the loss of the shows for the Summer will be tough for many, but it is the prudent step to take at this time. We made the sacrifice in 2001 for Foot and Mouth and we came back. We will come back from this as well. The most important thing is that we all come back from this and that means staying apart and following all government guidelines.
"Many of our loyal sponsors, both on local and national level, have had their businesses impacted severely by this crisis. We would urge our members to do what you can to support those local businesses that have been such a huge support to your shows over the years in whatever way possible.
"The Irish Shows Association wishes to acknowledge the Department of Rural and Community Development and Minister Michael Ring and his staff for their continued support of our shows. The Department has agreed that grant funding issued for 2020 can be ring-fenced and held in trust until 2021. We thank the department most sincerely on behalf of our member shows. This funding will be a great help to shows trying to pick up and get going again in 2021. We ask all shows to cooperate fully with us in this regard and adhere strictly to the procedure outlined.
"The Irish Shows Association Executive is in regular contact with shows about the current state of play and we would appreciate if shows could follow any and all guidelines issued.
"Board meetings will continue by conference call for the foreseeable future. We will also be looking at any opportunities to run virtual training events and online competitions over the coming months.
"The Irish Shows Association would like to take this opportunity to thank the people on the frontline for all their efforts during this crisis. We all have someone working in healthcare and we wish them all well and hope that they stay safe while keeping us safe. We also wish to acknowledge the people working in the grocery and agri-food sector who are working tirelessly to keep supply chains open.
"We would like to include the farmers and the vets in this group, as they are often forgotten in all of this. We wish all of our members and supporters good health and urge everyone to stay safe and follow all public safety guidelines. Ní neart go cur le chéile."