March 24, 2020
Your Board of Director’s has met for the 2nd time to review options as they relate to the Alpaca Ontario Spring Show & Fibre Faire 202 and it is with regret that we inform you that we will be cancelling the Show scheduled for April 24, 2020. While a postponement until the Fall of this year was discussed, the ever-changing environment in which we find ourselves does not lend itself to determining with any certainty that restrictions on group gatherings and physical distancing will be lifted by that time. At the end of the day, the safety and well-being of all our members and those planning to attend an event of this nature is of primary importance.
All individuals who have signed up for the show and for workshops will be given full refunds which will be processed over the next four to five days.
We thank you for your support and understanding. We will be communicating this message and all further updates on our Alpaca Ontario Inc. Facebook and Instagram pages, and more detailed membership information on the Alpaca Ontario website.
March 13, 2020
We have seen a heightened level of concern related to the spread of novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Alpaca Ontario recognizes that this may be an unsettling time and we want to provide you with an update on the actions your Board is taking to safeguard the health and well-being of our members, their farms, and their families in light of the recent developments. While we have no immediate plans to cancel or post-pone the Show, you should be aware that this situation is fluid, and changing daily. Alpaca Ontario will continue to monitor the situation closely and remain in contact with all levels of government (municipal, provincial and federal), as well as human and animal health care professionals, as we determine what our next steps will be. In order to ensure that we reach everyone with this important notice, we have expanded the distribution list to include members from 2019 we may not yet have paid their membership for 2020, and were delaying this activity until closer to the date of their registration for the Show.
We have consulted with Dr. Christa Arsenault, Lead Veterinarian for Animal Health & Welfare @ the Ontario Ministry, Agriculture, Food & Rural Affairs and she has confirmed that there is no proof of any impact to animals with this virus. While good news from that perspective, there is still the human element to consider.
We have contacted our two international judges and the West Niagara Agricultural Centre (WNAC) about our concerns – both from a travel perspective for the judges, and an event perspective for the venue, and all have indicated that they will grant us a two week waiting period prior to making any formal decisions about cancellation or postponement. While we recognize that the current risk level in the Niagara Region is low, and the Show itself is held both indoors and outdoors, which could be seen to limit the risk of transmission, there are other concerns that would impact our decision about moving forward:
- Where attendees are coming from (i.e. general public in attendance and our inability to screen previous travel outside of Canada)
- The number of attendees and whether or not we will be able maintain the two metre “social distancing” recommended by Public Health Canada and Public Health Ontario for public gatherings
- Risk of transmission to at-risk populations – i.e. those with pre-existing medical conditions, immunocompromised, etc.
- Our ability to provide appropriate hygiene levels in both the ring, show, vendor, and other areas – particularly the event venue washroom facilities
Our decision will ultimately come down to public safety and our responsibility as an Association to ensure that we are doing everything that we can not to spread the coronavirus and further compromise an already over-taxed medical infrastructure.
We are working with WNAC in order to establish the following protocols should the Show proceed:
- Additional hand sanitizer stations will be available around the property
- Additional signage to all washrooms and event areas promoting personal protective practices (hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, staying home if ill)
- Additional cleaning of common area “touch points”, such as doors, railings, gates, pens
For those interested in more information, the Public Health Agency of Canada has issued guidelines on “risk-informed decision-making for mass gatherings during the global outbreak.”
We have also been in touch with our colleagues at Alpaga Quebec, and in light of the recent announcement by their Provincial Government yesterday, banning all public gatherings of 250 of more people, their Spring Show, held just one week earlier than ours, is also at risk. Alpaga Quebec has met and determined that they will establish a two-week waiting period to monitor the situation, prior to making any decisions about the continuation of their Show. We will keep you informed of their decision once it has been made.
The Spring Show & Fibre Faire is the highlight of our Association’s year, and your Board wants you to know that any decision taken to either cancel or postpone will not be made lightly. We are actively monitoring the situation and any decision will be reached after much thought, discussion, and review of all of the relevant information made available to us. Ultimately the safety and well-being or our members, their animals, and those planning to attend the Show will be of primary importance. This note will be posted on the Alpaca Ontario website and will updated regularly.
Please contact me directly should you have any questions or concerns.
Chair, Alpaca Ontario