The Seafood Expo North America announced Tuesday that it has postponed its March convention at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center due to concerns about the coronavirus.
It's the first Boston convention to be postponed so far due to concerns over the coronavirus. Sony did back out of last weekend's PAX East convention, which was held at the same location.
Over 22,000 people attended the expo last year, according to the event's website.
Diversified Communications, the organizer of the Seafood Expo, said it made the decision to postpone after many weeks of monitoring the situation around COVID-19.
"This decision has been difficult because of the major importance of this event to the industry," Diversified said in a statement. "We heard from those of you who were concerned about health, safety and travel restrictions, and given the short time before the scheduled event date, and upcoming logistics, we have determined that postponement at this time is unavoidable."
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They said they remain committed to finding a solution to hold the event sometime this year in North America "to ensure business continuity to the seafood industry."
Massachusetts Convention Center Authority Executive Director David Gibbons said in a statement that the decision "creates a significant financial loss" for his agency, its vendors and contractors, hotel and restaurant partners "and thousands of tradeshow and hospitality workers who participate in putting on a show of this magnitude."
He said the MCCA will work with the city, the state and other industry partners to minimize the impact of the postponement as much as possible.
Yankee Lobster in the seaport is often crowded with convention goers.
“When something gets postponed or cancelled, that really hurts us,” said Eugene Giunta.
“It affects how we schedule, how the business goes, all the way around, financially for the hourly employees with their tips hours,” he said.
Legal Seafood President and CEO Roger Berkowitz was slated to participate in the Seafood Expo and take place on a panel.
"While disappointing, it’s certainly understandable," he said. "But the loss of the show will have a big economic impact on the city."
The Seafood Expo, which was scheduled for March 15 to 17, is described as "a leading trade event for seafood buyers in every market category, including retail, restaurant, catering, foodservice and processing." It is North America's largest seafood expo.
In Massachusetts, there has been one confirmed case and one presumptive case of the virus. Just over 600 people have been subject to self-quarantine and 377 of those people have completed their monitoring with no symptoms.