Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) directors met over the internet this morning (Tuesday) to discuss the coronavirus outbreak and concluded that the show, due to be held from June 18-21 should not go ahead.
The decision was made after considering Scottish and UK Government’s policy and guidance on gatherings and social distancing.
RHASS chairman, Bill Gray said: “It is with deep regret and huge personal disappointment that I confirm the cancellation of the 2020 Royal Highland Show.
"Plans for the 180th show are at an advanced stage but given recent and ongoing developments, the directors and I have taken the only course of action open to us.
“Thankfully, the sector is nothing but resilient and while this will no doubt test us, I am confident that some good will come from what is a bleak and worrying time for us all.
"To that end, we are calling on the industry and wider partners to work with us to support each other to ensure we weather the storm.”
RHASS chief executive Alan Laidlaw added: “It would be naïve to underestimate the massive impact the cancellation will have on the charity, but with the industry’s support, I have little doubt that we can, and we will, get through this.
"Personally, I am saddened that despite our best intentions, we are not able to stage this year’s event but in these unprecedented times we must focus on the wider issue, support the vulnerable in our communities and ensure that Scottish Agriculture plays its essential part in achieving this.”
RHASS confirmed that exhibitors and sponsors are be contacted over the coming weeks and ticket holders will be able receive a full refund by applying to Ticketmaster.
"There are tough financial times ahead for RHASS, but over time and with the backing of our members and sector partners, we will recover,” added Mr Laidlaw,
Scotland’s agricultural calendar has virtually been stripped bare as event organisers face up to the fact that the coronavirus situation is unlikely to improve in coming months.
Ayr Show, traditionally the first county show of the year and due to be held on Saturday May 9 has been cancelled.
John Barclay, chairman of Ayrshire Agricultural Association said on Tuesday (March 17): “Following discussion with the directors it is with a very heavy heart that we have taken the difficult decision to cancel the Ayr County Show 2020.
“We have a duty of care to everyone concerned and do not wish to add to the building pressure the NHS is already experiencing.”
Mr Barclay added that all monies already paid would be refunded.
A decision on Fife Show, the next of the large county shows in the diary and scheduled for Saturday May 23, is due to be announced soon but is believed it is also likely to be cancelled.
Scotsheep, the biennial trade event for the sheep industry is due to be held at Over Finlarg near Dundee on June 3.
Organiser Euan Emslie said: “NSA Scotland have a meeting on Thursday evening to decide on a course of action. It is too early to say but the event will not be cancelled although it could well be postponed. We can hold off making decision until mid-April if need be.”
Auction marts are open and trading normally but the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS) has advised people to check individual arrangements with their local auctioneers.
It has recommended that only those conducting direct business enter marts and that everyone attending follows the latest public health advice, including that surrounding hand washing and social distancing.
People displaying any symptoms of Covid-19, who have had contact with those displaying symptoms or who have recently returned from high-risk areas, are being asked not to attend marts.
Auctioneers, meanwhile, are on-hand to support those in groups deemed as vulnerable and advised not to attend any public gatherings to discuss what arrangements can be put in place to allow them to trade livestock.
IAAS executive director Neil Wilson said: “Our marts are open, are trading and customers should continue to use them.
“In line with the latest Government guidance, our members - who play a key part in the food supply chain - are working hard to ensure minimum disruption while monitoring and adapting to public health advice as it is shared.”