Chile, which was announced as the Country of Honour for the Vinexpo Hong Kong 2020 edition, has announced that it will withdraw its participation from the upcoming wine fair, due to the threat of highly-contagious COVID-19, even though Vinexpo still insists the July edition will go ahead.
Wines of Chile, the official wine trade body representing Chilean wineries, has announced that due to the fast spread of coronavirus at a global level, it has decided to withdraw its participation in Vinexpo Hong Kong, which is scheduled for July 8-10 after first being postponed from May.
Chile was originally announced as the Country of Honour in 2018, and at the upcoming edition its wine success in Asia was supposed to be celebrated as it ranks as the biggest wine supplier to Japan and China in terms of volume in 2019.
This dramatic withdrawal will most definitely add to the speculation that Vinexpo Hong Kong will face cancellation given the mounting health concerns and global travel restrictions, despite insistence from its management that the show will go ahead as planed.
Wine Australia, another heavyweight presence at the past Vinexpo editions, also announced last month that it would withdraw from the fair, due to the virus spread.
What also adds to uncertainty of Vinexpo Hong Kong is that the hosting city this week extends its travel ban on arrivals indefinitely, which was originally intended for only two weeks.
Hong Kong’s imported cases rose sharply pushing the number of confirmed cases close to 1,000 compared with some 300 cases just two weeks ago.
However, Patrick Seguin, chairman of the Bordeaux Chamber of Commerce and Industry and of Vinexpo, insisted the fair will go ahead as planned. “We are firmly committed to keeping the show in Hong Kong. There don’t seem to be any new cases of coronavirus in Asia. The situation is improving,” he told Vitisphere in an interview published on March 31.
Hong Kong just today reported 21 new cases, pushing the total to 935 and Japan, which initially contained the spread of the virus has declared a month-long state of emergency as confirmed cases spike. Singapore on Tuesday passed new laws that prohibit social gatherings of any size in both private and public spaces for six months as it battles the pandemic.
In the same announcement issued by Wines of Chile, it also says it is still deciding on its participation in the China Food & Drinks Fair (CFDF), or commonly known as Chengdu Wine & Spirits Fair in May.
China has decided to temporarily suspend entry of foreigners with currently valid visas and residence permits in the country starting from March 28 in an effort to block the spread of the coronavirus through imported cases, effectively stopping foreign arrivals.
Key wine trade fairs including Prowein Dusseldorf and Vinitaly Verona have been postponed to next year, due to the pandemic.
As of today, COVID-19 has sickened 1,360,355 globally and killed 75,973 people.