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Coronavirus claims Royal Show

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The coronavirus pandemic has forced the cancellation of the Royal Adelaide Show for only the fifth time since it began in 1840.

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The Royal Agricultural and Horticultural Society of SA (Society) said this morning that it had no choice but to cancel the 2020 Show, which was due to be held from September 4 – 13 at the Wayville Showground.

“Due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, and the current restrictions in place for public gatherings, along with the uncertainty of any timeline around lifting restrictions, it makes it unworkable to hold a large event such as the Show in 2020,” the society said in a statement.

“In the Society’s 181-year history there has only been four reasons for the Show not being held, namely WWI and WW2 along with the Victorian Gold Rush in 1852 and the 1919 Spanish Flu pandemic.

“It is deeply disappointing to reach this decision; however, it has been carefully evaluated and considered. It is felt the position the Society has taken is in the best interest of public health and the broader community.”

The society would now contact members, sponsors, exhibitors and others to discuss the cancellation and begin planning for the 2021 Show.

A society spokesman said that up to 80,000 people a day attended the annual Show, and on current advice it was unrealistic to expect those numbers would be allowed to gather by September.

“The decision we’ve made for the Royal Show this year is really about having an understanding of where the state will be in the next nine months,” he said.

“No one can give the exact answer but we have taken advice and it’s highly unlikely large events such as the Royal Show will be able to have the number of people attending as we normally receive.”

The society had reduced hours and stood some staff down since the pandemic hit.

Premier Steven Marshall said organisers had made “the right decision [but] it was a very tough decision for them to make”.

He said while “everybody loves the show… there was a very, very limited likelihood that there would have been any lifting of the restrictions regarding mass gatherings” by September.

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