The City of Annapolis has decided that the city’s two major boat shows—the United States Powerboat Show and the United States Sailboat Show—will not be allowed to go on this year due to the pandemic.
The decision comes after months of back and forth between event organizers and officials from the Anne Arundel County Department of Health, during which an adequate plan to keep visitors safe both inside and outside the show never materialized. The shows draw boaters from across the country, and the influx of people in the city going to restaurants and social gatherings or using ride-sharing and public transport posed a great risk to visitors and residents.
“We are concerned about public health and the ability to maintain a safe environment downtown with the large number of visitors that the boat shows draw,” said City Manager David Jarrell. “It is a blow to the city and will be an additional stress on local businesses. But we can’t be the epicenter of a COVID-19 outbreak. It’s that simple.”
While the decision is yet another blow to boaters after a season of cancelled events, it will be especially hard on the local economy of Annapolis, as the two fall boat shows typically bring in nearly half a million dollars in revenue.
“This was a hard call. No one wanted to have boat shows in Annapolis more than I did,” said Mayor Gavin Buckley. “But our first obligation is to ensure the health and safety of city residents and visitors. We take that responsibility very seriously. We will enthusiastically welcome the boat shows in future years when it is safe.” Though surely a disappointment to some, ultimately it is in the best interest of the boating community.
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