The largest gathering of craft brewing industry professionals has been canceled due to concerns over the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.
After days of speculation and major events across the country canceling and postponing, the Brewers Association today announced the decision to forgo holding the 2020 edition of the Craft Brewers Conference & Brew Expo America, as well as the World Beer Cup competition, which was expected to draw more than 13,000 people to San Antonio from April 19-22.
“Developments over the past 24 hours have made hosting this year’s conference infeasible, and, after much thought and consideration, we have made the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America and World Beer Cup,” the BA said in a statement on its website.
The BA said all registration and booth fees, sponsor payments and World Beer Cup competition entries will be refunded in full within the next 60 days. The size and scale of the event makes it impossible to postpone, the BA added.
“Meetings the size of CBC are planned years in advance, with coordination with cities large enough to accommodate thousands of people at once,” the BA said. “As such, rescheduling is regrettably not an option.”
The next CBC will take place March 29-April 1, 2021, in San Diego, California.
The BA’s cancellation of CBC, as well as Brew Expo and the World Beer Cup competition, comes one day after the National Beer Wholesalers Association canceled its Legislative Conference, which was scheduled to take place at the end of March in Washington, D.C.
The BA and NBWA are among many other organizations that have canceled (the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments, all five major college basketball conference tournaments, South by Southwest), postponed (Coachella) or suspended (the NBA, NHL, MLB) events. Democratic presidential hopefuls Sen. Bernie Sanders and former vice president Joe Biden have canceled political rallies.
In major cities and counties across the country, local officials are banning large gatherings of people in an effort to institute social distancing of individuals and slow the spread of the disease. Disneyland also announced it was shutting down.
Celebrities such as Tom Hanks, as well as Utah Jazz stars Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, have all been confirmed as testing positive for COVID-19.
The cancellation of CBC is a reversal of course for the BA, which as of Wednesday, said CBC would go on after senior management was in discussions with local and national health authorities to assess the status of continuing the events.
“We understand these are unprecedented times and we know people are revisiting their travel and tradeshow plans,” the trade group said yesterday. “The Brewers Association is meeting with San Antonio Metro Health on Thursday, March 12 and we will provide an update to all attendees and exhibitors by end of day (MT).”
Also on Wednesday, the BA launched a “Coronavirus Resource Center” on its website.
Brewbound, which had plans to host a Brew Talks meetup in San Antonio during CBC, will announce alternative plans for that event in the coming weeks.
As of press time, the number of worldwide confirmed cases of COVID-19 had exceeded 128,300 of which more than 68,300 people have recovered and more than 4,700 people have died, according to John Hopkins University. In the U.S., there are now more than 1,300 confirmed cases of the disease with more than 40 deaths, the majority of which have occurred in Washington state.
Editor’s Note: The Number of confirmed cases has been updated to reflect numbers tracked by John Hopkins University.