British Marine’s BOATS2020 — scheduled to begin today and run through Sept. 20 — has been canceled. Organizers were informed by Southampton City Council that the Mayflower Park event could not go on as planned, blaming the increased risk of Covid-19 infections and growing government fears of a super-spreader event.
Organizers received the news late Thursday evening on the cusp of opening day.
According to British Marine, they had carried out extensive safety measures, collaborating with Southampton city officials to meet and exceed England’s public health Covid-19 requirements.
But the enhanced measures, limited ticket sales and layout changes to ensure social distancing and that event spaces could be clean and sanitized when needed was not enough for the show to go on.
As the show was slated to kick off the next morning, exhibitors and staff were on-site preparing for the show when the news came.
“We are desperately disappointed that BOATS2020 will no longer be taking place, especially receiving the news at the eleventh hour before opening. A tremendous amount of work has been put in and it was heartening to see committed exhibitors on-site today getting geared up for opening,” said British Marine CEO Lesley Robinson in a statement.
“We are truly perplexed as to why we are unable to run the show at least until Monday in line with the government restrictions imposed yesterday. The global pandemic and unprecedented times mean that the latest circumstances are beyond our control. Public health and safety come first and naturally, as the show organizer, British Marine must comply with all guidance,” Robinson added.
In addition, a smaller event that was slated to open on the same day — MDL Marinas Ocean Village Show — has also been cancelled, MDL said.
“British Marine has remained committed to staging this not-for-profit boat show to support the leisure marine industry and our host city of Southampton, and I am deeply saddened that it will now no longer be taking place. Alongside our exhibitors, we were ready to open a show that exceeded all safety requirements,” Robinson said.
Organizers said they plan on offering ticket holders credit for next year’s Southampton International Boat Show and will be reaching out to exhibitors, ticket holders and further stakeholders for plans going forward.