Art Basel’s parent company MCH group announced today it is postponing the already beleaguered Baselworld watch fair until next January as Swiss authorities ban events with more than 1,000 people in a bid to halt the coronavirus (Covid-2019)
So far, more than 15 cases of the disease have been reported in Switzerland, which borders northern Italy, which has seen the largest outbreak in Europe.
The Swiss Federal Council ordered the ban today, which is valid until 15 March. Although Baselworld was not due to take place until 30 April, construction of the stands was scheduled to start next week. The majority of exhibitors has been consulted on the decision, according to a statement.
Michel Loris-Melikoff, the managing director of Baselworld, said in statement: “We deeply regret having had to postpone the event as planned due to the coronavirus, in full consideration of the needs of the watch and jewellery industry to be able to benefit from the platform to develop their business.”
Acknowledging the hardships faced by the fair, which has seen exhibitor and visitor numbers fall over the past two years, Loris-Melikoff added: “This decision has been all the more difficult in view of all the positives that have been achieved through listening and dialogue over the last few months, which resulted in new concepts and new solutions, that have attracted exhibitors to return and new ones to sign on.”
He believes by postponing the show, its organisers “have found a solution that enables the industry and all our customers to avoid losing a full year and at the same time reset their calendars for the beginning of the year”.
MCH Group also postponed the garden exhibition Giardina in Zurich and Habitat-Jardin in Lausanne, which had both been due to open next month. The firm is now “reviewing the holding of further events over the next few weeks and will be providing information about these as soon as possible”.
Other trade fairs to have been cancelled in the past 24 hours in Switzerland include the Geneva International Motor Show, which had been due to take place 5-15 March, and Watches & Wonders, also in Geneva, which was scheduled for 25-29 April.