Editor’s note, 11:35 a.m., March 13: The Big Horn Adventure Show has now announced that local officials have told them the event will be shut down.
Editor’s note, 4:40 p.m., March 12: Updated at bottom with information on WDFW, ODFW efforts to slow the spread of coronavirus
A fishing and hunting show in Central Oregon slated to open at noon today was among the events affected by COVID-19 closures and postponements as governments, businesses and Northwest residents react to contain the spread of the illness.
O’Loughlin Trade Shows of Portland made the decision this morning following Gov. Kate Brown’s announcement that all gatherings of more than 250 people statewide would be cancelled effective immediately for four weeks, among other steps.
“It’s in the best interest of the community, our exhibitors and our staff,” a statement on the company’s Facebook page said. “This decision is particularly difficult given our 10 months of preparation, high hopes to deliver our best show ever and the effort of our hundreds of exhibitors and local businesses whose business will be impacted by this decision. This situation has developed rapidly, we have been watching it closely to understand the risk to all-involved and ultimately that risk is too severe for us to open the show.”
The Central Oregon Sportsmen’s Show was slated to run March 12-15 in Redmond at the Deschutes County Fairgrounds. Hundreds of vendors will now be taking down their booths, while seminar speakers will be packing up their presentations.
A New Zealand hunting guide in town for the show reacted stoically.
“Very sad but I’m happy they are looking out for our wellbeing!” posted Bear Perkins of Kaweka Hunting N.Z. on Facebook.
He invited those in the area for the show to grab a cup of coffee and talk hunting in his home country.
The governor’s office is defining a gathering as “any event in a space in which appropriate social distancing of a minimum of three feet cannot be maintained.”
It’s the third of three annual winter shows put on by the O’Loughlins and follows events in Puyallup and Portland in late January and early February, when there was only one known case of the novel coronavirus in the United States.
“This is the first time we’ve cancelled or closed a show in our 80 years of business,” the company stated in announcing the change of plans. “Recent events associated with the coronavirus have developed quickly as everyone is working to grapple with the reality of this potentially fast-spreading virus and what steps to take based on the information and science available. In just the last 24 hours we have gone from taking a number of actions to provide handwashing stations and safety information to ultimately closing the show. To say this situation has moved fast is an understatement.”
Another fishing show that was to be held this weekend in Albany was cancelled last week.
“Our Board of Directors have decided to be proactive in preventing the possible spread” of the virus, the Oregon Council of Fly Fishers said about the NW Fly Tyer and Fly Fishing Expo that was to be held at the Linn County Expo Center.
Organizers of Spokane’s huge Big Horn Outdoor Adventure Show say they are monitoring the situation closely, but their March 19-2020 event is still on.
“Currently there are no reported cases of covid-19 in our area and the health department has the risk level listed as low,” the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council stated on its Facebook page this morning. “We are taking this health situation seriously as we want everyone to be able to enjoy our show and remain healthy. The Big Horn show is working with the fairgrounds who is working closely within the health department. Extra cleaning and sanitation measures will be in place throughout the facility. We are also taking extra sanitation measures at our individual booths.”
On Wednesday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee prohibited gatherings of 250 or more in the hardest hit Central Sound counties, King, Snohomish and Pierce.
Washington health officials say 29 people in those three counties have died from COVID-19 with a total of 366 people in 10 Westside and two Eastside counties positive for the illness.
Recent days have seen increasing suspensions of school classes, while traffic through Seattle rips along at 50-plus mph during what are usually the busiest parts of the commutes as more and more companies tell employees to work from home.
Flights from the United States to most of Europe have been banned for 30 days, President Trump announced last night, while the NBA, MLS, and several European soccer leagues have suspended play as well.
Back in the Northwest fishing and hunting world, ODFW’s Michelle Dennehy says that agency staffers are following state government guidelines on staying home if sick and stepping up cleaning of facilities.
“We have some events coming up — smaller classes which are not large gatherings of 250-plus people. These have not been cancelled but we are considering how to handle these smaller events as this situation rapidly evolves,” she added.
To the north, WDFW says it is shifting its annual public North of Falcon and other meetings from inperson to online or conference calls, starting March 16 and continuing through April 4.
As it shapes this year’s salmon seasons with tribal comanagers, the agency had scheduled a bevy of upcoming get-togethers with anglers, including in Olympia, Ridgefield, Clarkston, Sequim, East Wenatchee, Westport, Montesano, Mill Creek, Lynnwood and Ridgefield, but those will now be held digitally, according to WDFW.
“We are dedicated to providing an opportunity for the public to share their feedback on our work – that hasn’t changed,” said Diredctor Kelly Susewind in a press release. “We encourage people to use the alternate methods we’re providing so they can still ensure that their voices are heard. We commit to giving these comments all the weight that our constituents convey when they participate in person. We’re taking the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state seriously and are thinking of the well-being of all Washingtonians as we make these difficult decisions.”
The April 4-10 Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting in Vancouver that will finalize North of Falcon and other West Coast salmon seasons is still a go at this point.