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Preston events scene takes a hit as coronavirus causes mass cancellations

Posted on - 20th March, 2020 - 7:00pm | Author - | Posted in - Health, Preston News, What's On in Preston
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The Preston events scene is feeling the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

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While cancellations started to trickle through last week, the Government’s guidance for the public to stay away from large gatherings, and now the ordered closure of pubs and similar venues, have caused a swathe of events to be called off.

One of the earliest events to be cancelled was UCLan’s Diversity and Inclusion Festival. At the time a spokesperson for UCLan said: “The University is doing everything it can to minimise the risk of the virus on any of our campuses. We hope to re-arrange the event in the coming months.”

Promoter Garry Cook has had to pull three upcoming events. The Community Centre – which came to the Continental last year – should have been performed as part of UCLan’s Diversity and Inclusion Festival. A Rock ’N’ Roll Suicide, and the Cold War Steve exhibition have also been canned.

Garry said: “It has been really tough having to cancel shows, especially when the performers and venues wanted them to go ahead. But in the end there wasn’t really a choice. The health risk to people, that was the major factor. Low turn outs would also mean the shows I put on would mean everyone losing money.

“I really wanted to keep the shows going – particularly because the threat here in Preston felt really low, like coronavirus wasn’t really here. But the health risks to those vulnerable groups are self-evident. And once the government advised people not to attend public gatherings, it was obvious that cancelling performances was the only option.”

Read more: Prestfest postponed due to Coronavirus fears

Meanwhile one of the city’s most popular annual events, Preston Standing Together Against Racism, was pulled six days before it should have taken place (Saturday 21 March) as a “precautionary measure”.

A fundraiser for this year’s Preston Caribbean Carnival with former West Indies and Lancashire cricketer Colin Croft was postponed after attendees started to pull out.

Organiser Judith Hamilton said: “We have had a large number of companies who had reserved tables now cancel due to the coronavirus. In light of this our committee has decided that it is best to postpone the event until later in the year.”

A gluten free food fair at Preston’s College that was expected to attract 700 people has been cancelled. A spokesperson for the organisers said: “We have a responsibility to our food fair attendees – both stallholders and visitors – and feel that cancelling the food fair is in the best interests of everyone.”

Attendees at the 2019 gluten free food fair at Preston's College
Attendees at the 2019 gluten free food fair at Preston’s College – this year’s event has been cancelled

And the Lancashire Business Expo, which was due to see 2,000 people descend on Preston Guild Hall has been postponed from its planned April date to Friday 4 September. All exhibit bookings will be rolled over to September free of charge.

Toby Broadbent from Sensible Choice, who were planning to take their self-built arcade machine to the event, said: “Organiser the SHOUT Network has taken the decision to postpone the April event, rightfully believing that it’s in the best interests of their team, members, guests and those working at the host venue.”

Regular gatherings such as Preston Orpheus Choir rehearsals have been suspended until further notice. Mick Gardner from the choir said: “Apologies to all concerned but it’s better to be safe than sorry”.

Local charity Heartbeat has also temporarily stopped classes as a precautionary measure. Instructors will continue to support their class members to stay active with online exercise plans, as well as provide mental health and nutritional support.

Heartbeat Chief Executive Louise Bache said, “It was a difficult decision to make, but we felt it was the right time and in the best interest of all our members to postpone our classes for the time being. Our members’ health is our primary concern and we want to do all we can to reduce their risk.”

Read more: Blog Preston wants to help small businesses in Preston affected by coronavirus – here’s how

Have you been affected by events being cancelled in Preston? Let us know in the comments.

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