Brewers Association Cancels Craft Brewers Conference Due To Coronavirus Pandemic

Food & Drink

After much speculation, the 2020 Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America has officially been canceled due to concerns over the spread of a novel coronavirus disease, called COVID-19.

The annual event, which brings together roughly 13,000 beer industry professionals from across the world and is hosted by the U.S. Brewers Association, was scheduled to take place in San Antonio, Texas from April 19-22.

“Developments over the past 24 hours have made hosting this year’s conference infeasible,” the trade group announced via its website

The decision to forgo the convention — which was first reported by beer industry trade publication Brewbound — came one day after the National Beer Wholesalers Association (NBWA) called off its Legislative Conference, which was scheduled to kick off in Washington D.C. at the end of the month.

“Developments over the past several days, including exposure and self-quarantine of members of Congress, meeting cancellations and travel restrictions, flight reductions and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other health agencies, have made hosting this year’s conference a significant challenge,” NBWA chief executive Craig Purser wrote in a note to members yesterday.

Both groups have offered refunds to individuals who were planning to attend. The BA said it would “provide full refunds of conference registration and booth fees, sponsor payments, and World Beer Cup competition entries,” while the NBWA said it would fully refund attendee registration fees.

Elsewhere in the beer industry, Cigar City’s popular Hunahpu’s Day beer festival, scheduled for March 13, has been canceled and refunds are being offered.

“We have decided at this time it is the most responsible action to take for our loyal consumers, our employees, the craft community in addition to the great city of Tampa,” the company wrote in a statement.

In Massachusetts, Trillium Brewing Company canceled its Seventh Anniversary event on March 21 and is offering refunds. 

For the BA, the cancelation of the 2020 CBC event was seen as inevitable by many industry watchers.

“Had a hunch the Craft Brewers Conference would be canceled this week,” beer industry writer Joshua Bernstein wrote via Twitter. “It’s a tough move yet ultimately the right one considering how rapidly things are evolving.”

The cancellation of upcoming beer industry events is just one small example of how the entire U.S. is taking drastic steps to slow the spread of COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of 4,720 people worldwide as of press time. 

Major events expected to draw large crowds — including the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, South by Southwest, the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, and the Stagecoach Festival, among many others — have all been canceled or postponed. 

Meanwhile, the National Basketball Association, National Hockey League, Major League Baseball, PGA Tour, and the XFL, among others, have suspended play or closed events off to fans. The organizers of the Boston Marathon are also expected to postpone the world-famous race, but no official announcement has been made.

Outside of the sporting world, several musicians, including singer The Who, Cher, Blake Shelton, Carlos Santana, Third Eye Blind, and Billie Eilish, among others, have also canceled shows and suspended tours.

Additionally, several large companies have implemented work from home policies, and many schools and universities have sent students home from campus.

Indeed, social distancing measures, which include avoiding large crowds, are believed to be one of the most effective ways to slow the coronavirus pandemic. 

The strategy and corresponding graphic that has been widely shared across social media is called “flattening the curve.” It has been promoted by public health officials, members of the medical community and even former President Barack Obama. 

“If you’re wondering whether it’s an overreaction to cancel large gatherings and public events (and I love basketball), here’s a useful primer as to why these measures can slow the spread of the virus and save lives,” he wrote via Twitter on Thursday, sharing a Vox article explaining the  We have to look out for each other.  

As of press time, the number of worldwide confirmed cases of COVID-19 has topped 128,000 while the number of deaths has reached 4,720, according to Johns Hopkins University. In the U.S., meanwhile, there are 1,663 confirmed cases and 40 deaths.

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