How the novel coronavirus outbreak is impacting Montreal event planners

Montreal event planners say the novel coronavirus outbreak is hitting them hard, with bans on large gatherings leading to many cancellations. Getty Images

One of the industries hit hardest and earliest by the novel coronavirus outbreak has been the event-planning industry, as gatherings of more than 250 people have been banned by the Quebec government for over a week.

Le Château Classique owner Giulio Di Minno told Global News Morning that COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, has essentially forced his entire industry into hibernation.

“Listen, we’re basically shut down,” he said.

While all large events have to be called off, Di Minno said most organizers are leaving it up to their clients to decide whether to hold smaller events.

Despite that technicality, he said: “Everything’s been cancelled.”

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“Up until about a week ago, we were still getting calls [for events of] 50 or 60 people, asking: ‘Should we cancel?’”

In the end, Di Minno said most of them have opted to cancel.

For the very few who are still going ahead with their events, Di Minno added that every precaution is being taken.

“We’re just making sure everything’s OK,” he said. “Everything’s being cleaned, everyone’s wearing gloves.”

Further complicating matters is the fact that many insurers are refusing to pay out for cancelled events, both in Montreal and around the world.

After the popular creative industry conference South by Southwest in Texas was cancelled earlier this month, organizers there made headlines when it was revealed their insurance policy didn’t cover cancellation due to health concerns.

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Di Minno said many in Montreal are finding the same nasty surprise.

“Insurance companies are not stepping in at all. We’ve inquired, and there’s no compensation at the moment,” he said.

Another big question mark that continues to hang over the industry, Di Minno says, is what will happen after society starts to get back to normal once the outbreak has passed.

“Most people are thinking of rescheduling, but the thing is that soon, it’ll be the busy season,” Di Minno explained, referring to the early summer period when many people hold weddings. “And can you host these people [with events that were initially scheduled in March or April] then?”

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