Apologies for a long and detailed post but I think this needs to be set out logically so everyone can understand our position.
As everyone is aware we are in the midst of an escalating issue with the Covid-19 Coronavirus. One of the questions that is rightly being asked is whether or not events like Partizan can or should take place under the current circumstances. We realise that the show is still over 2 months away but we thought it would be helpful to everyone to set out our current position and what this means for the show on May 17th.
There are basically three possible scenarios as we see it at the moment. I am listing these in order of likelihood with, unfortunately, the least likely first.
- The crisis passes well before the show and we can continue as planned. Given the current scientific and medical advice and the way the epidemic is developing this seems to be the least likely scenario. It is of course the one we would prefer but we have to be realistic and say there is not much chance of this being the situation by mid-May.
- The situation worsens considerably and the Government, under advice from the experts decide to ban gatherings over a certain size or advise against large meetings like Partizan. This is what has happened in France and some other affected countries so we have to consider this a realistic option.
- The situation continues to worsen but slowly so there is no recommendation to avoid large gatherings. Under these circumstances I would expect that many people would still choose not to attend. We have to be honest and admit that our demographic – primarily middle aged and older men is one of those that the experts say is mostly likely to be hit badly by the virus and I would certainly not ask anyone to put themselves at risk for the sake of a wargames show. Under these circumstances we would be faced with hosting a show where we would see a very much lower attendance which would then put traders in a difficult position financially. We would also be asking those putting the games on to put themselves at possible risk which we would not be willing to do.
If we do not go ahead with the show for any reason then traders will not lose their fees. We will give them the choice of either getting a full refund or deferring the payment to the next show in October (assuming things are back to normal by then). This would be entirely up to the individual traders.
If we do not hold the show in May and have to still pay the venue and other costs we will not go bust. Partizan is run by a few people for the show with no monies taken out for clubs or individuals. This has meant that, apart from having to keep the taxman happy, we have been able to plough profits back into the shows and also have made sure we have a contingency fund for exactly these sorts of occasions. We do have insurance but are unsure if this will be covered, particularly if there is not an outright ban by the Government. But this does mean we are in a position where we can cancel the show in May without putting the future of Partizan at risk.
So what are we going to do?
The immediate answer is nothing. Obviously we cannot wait until the very last minute as clearly people have to make plans and many traders and visitors book hotels and hire vans for the shows. But we do intend to wait until the beginning of April before making a final decision. But we will not wait later than that. If by April 2nd (I will avoid April 1st for obvious reasons as a bad day to make announcements) we are not seeing clear signs of an improvement then we will cancel the show in May and defer all plans to October, even if there has been no official ban. So I would urge people not to book hotels or vehicles until after that date.
Our hope of course is that in the next month the position improves but I think we have to be realistic and accept that even if we are allowed to go ahead it may not be advisable from a financial or health point of view to do so. Waiting another few weeks leaves that possibility open but we are prepared to take the decision early enough to make sure people are not out of pocket and can make other arrangements.
As it stands if we do cancel then I will initially say that everyone – games, trade and societies - who has already been invited to the May show will be re-invited automatically to October. My hope is that we can pretty much use October as the postponed May. But I will have more on the logistics of that after May.
Richard, Laurence and Steve.