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Annapolis Fall Boat Shows Canceled

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The City of Annapolis has canceled its two fall boat shows because of concerns around the coronavirus pandemic, the Annapolis Capital Gazette is reporting.

The decision was made this morning by Mayor Gavin Buckley, city manager David Jarrell, Anne Arundel health officer Dr. Nilesh Kalyanaraman, and alderwoman Elly Tierney.

All agreed the risk of holding a large event during the pandemic was too great, city spokesperson Mitchelle Stephenson told the newspaper.

It’s the latest example of major industry events either being canceled outright or moving to a virtual format. Thus far, the Newport International Boat Show has been canceled, and the International Boatbuilders Exhibition & Conference and International Convention of Allied Sportfishing Trades both planned or are planning virtual events.

Annapolis Boat Shows president Paul Jacobs met with city health officials including Kalyanaraman on Monday, presenting plans to host a smaller show compared to previous years with stringent health and safety guidelines including mandatory mask use and temperature checks.

Jacobs had also planned to have fewer vendors, and limit the number of daily attendees to 6,000. During last year’s show, about 14,000 people attended during a Saturday, he told the paper.

But officials still had concerns about rule enforcement, and questions around how to manage the influx of visitors to the downtown area once the shows closed for the day.

“What happens inside the boat show is a question but also there is not an ability to police what happens outside the boat show,” Stephenson said.

The U.S. Powerboat Show was scheduled for Oct. 1-4, and the U.S. Sailboat Show was slated for Oct. 8-12.

Both economic drivers for the city, the shows typically generate an estimated $112 million in economic activity annually in the region, according to a 2014 economic impact study.

The city has pulled in $464,000, $447,000 and $536,000 in revenue from the three fall boat shows from fall 2017 to 2019, according to the Annapolis finance department.

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