For the first time in its history, Tefaf Maastricht will shut early today due to the spread of coronavirus.
The abrupt announcement has just been sent out to galleries, only hours after it was announced that an exhibitor had been diagnosed with the virus on Monday. The 33rd edition of the fair was due to continue until Sunday, 15 March, but will instead close at 7pm this evening.
The decision was made in consultation with the city of Maastricht, the health authorities and the fair's venue, the MECC Maastricht.
"While the health advice of the authorities in the immediate region has not changed, we understand the situation in the Netherlands and neighbouring countries is changing," Tefaf says in a statement. "We have also taken into account the growing concern of exhibitors, visitors and staff and the ever-growing difficulties regarding travel and transport."
Nanne Dekking, the chairman of Tefaf's board of trustees, says that: "Given the recent developments in the regions around Maastricht and increasing concerns, we no longer feel it is appropriate to continue as planned." He thanks exhibitors, visitors and staff "for their trust and support in this unprecedented situation". Annemarie Penn te Strake, Maastricht's mayor adds: "We understand the unrest is growing due to circumstances in the countries of origin and the regions surrounding us. It’s only right that there is attention to this concern.”
"Overall I think it is a good thing," says one exhibitor, who wishes to remain anonymous. "The day-to-day attendance has been very much down over the past three days, and the mood among the exhibitors has been quite pessimistic since the weekend."