British Marine, organiser of BOATS2020, the one-off, not-for-profit boat show has been cancelled. With just hours to go before doors.

At 6.34pm on September 10, on the eve of opening day, British Marine received the news from Southampton City Council that the show could no longer go ahead due to the rising risk of COVID-19 and growing Government fears.

The show, due to take place from September 11-20 2020, was set to open following extensive work in collaboration with Southampton City Council to ensure that the existing Public Health England COVID-19 secure requirements were met.

The MDL Ocean Village event has also been cancelled.

Lesley Robinson, CEO of British Marine, explained: “We are desperately disappointed that BOATS2020 will no longer be taking place, especially receiving the news at the eleventh hour before opening. A tremendous amount of work has been put in and it was heartening to see committed exhibitors on-site today getting geared up for opening.

“British Marine has remained committed to staging this not-for-profit boat show to support the leisure marine industry and our host city of Southampton, and I am deeply saddened that it will now no longer be taking place. Alongside our exhibitors, we were ready to open a show that exceeded all safety requirements. We are truly perplexed as to why we are unable to run the show at least until Monday in line with the Government restrictions imposed yesterday (September 9). The global pandemic and unprecedented times mean that the latest circumstances are beyond our control. Public health and safety come first and naturally, as the show organiser, British Marine must comply with all guidance.”

Debbie Chase, director of public health at Southampton City Council, said: “Due to the increased spread of COVID-19 nationally, and the need for stronger control measures to reduce transmission both in Southampton and across the country, we unfortunately cannot allow the Ocean Village Boat Show 2020 and Boats 2020 presented by Southampton International Boat Show Limited to take place this month. We have therefore issued a Direction under Regulation 5(1) of the Health Protection Regulations 2020 prohibiting these events from taking place.

“In Southampton and the South East, we have seen a lower rate of COVID-19 transmissions since lockdown ended. However, the national picture shows a concerning rise in cases, and with these events set to attract around 20,000 people from different parts of the UK over a 10-day period, it’s important we act now to reduce the risk of infection.

“The people of Southampton have been doing a fantastic job of supporting their city through social distancing, regular handwashing and isolating if they start showing coronavirus symptoms. The event organisers have also worked incredibly hard to risk assess their activities and implement a range of safety measures. So, I’m very sorry to disappoint them and everyone who was looking forward to attending these events.

“The decision, while regrettable, has been made after detailed analysis of the public health risks and discussions with our colleagues in the city, including the police. COVID-19 is still very much with us and we all need to stay alert, particularly at this sensitive time.”