Published: March 24, 2020
By Greg Smith
On Wednesday, March 11, the United States began to take seriously the COVID-19 outbreak that was spreading silently across the nation. The near days leading up to that date saw the United States Centers for Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) make recommendations to cease large indoor public gatherings of more than 250 individuals and to avoid all cruise and non-essential travel for at-risk populations. On March 13, United States President Donald Trump declared a national emergency.
At Antiques and The Arts Weekly, March 11 was the first day that we received word of shows with future dates – weeks and even months ahead – calling off their events in preparation for the outbreak. Eight events canceled that day. The same number canceled the next day, Thursday, March 12. All others in the months of March and April have followed. See a running list of event cancellations at https://www.antiquesandthearts.com/antiques-shows-auctions-are-cancelling-as-states-ban-gatherings-across-america-a-running-list/.
This put organizers of shows on the weekend of March 14-15 in a precarious situation: to have the show or not – it was days away and they were already invested.
Recommendations from the CDC are not regulations. They are not enforceable without orders from federal, state or local officials.
The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, the Netherlands, which was slated to run March 7-15, closed four days early on March 11 after an exhibitor tested positive for COVID-19.
Going into the March 14-15 weekend, the Chester County Antiques & Art Show in Exton, Penn., which benefits the Chester County Historical Society, was slated to have a preview party on Friday, March 13, and cautiously pushed to open. Event organizers sent notification on March 12 that it would not occur. Walls were erected and dealers were on their way to the venue when the show announced its closure following talks with local health officials.
Similarly, the Oakmont Antiques Show, a benefit for the Kerr Memorial Museum in Oakmont, Penn., was slated to open with a preview party on March 13 and to continue on through the weekend. The show was entirely set up, including the dealer’s booths when word came on March 13 that the show would be cancelled for health concerns.
Many auctioneers with scheduled sales on this weekend pushed through, though not without each issuing cautious messages that they would be sanitizing their venues and highly encouraging all to participate with online bidding.
Other shows that canceled within a day or two of their event include The Greater Syracuse Antiques Expo, Syracuse, N.Y.; The Ohio Decoy Collectors & Carvers Association Show & Sale, Strongsville, Ohio; From The Farm House Spring Antique Show; Elkton, Md.; Antiques on Campus at Nazareth College, Rochester, N.Y.; The Bath Antique Sale, Bath, Maine; and The Milford Antiques Show, Milford, N.H.
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