Continuity Fairs has had to postpone and reorganise events due to the coronavirus restrictions. This image is from Continuity Fairs’ regulars Rachel and Steve Bates from Oxfordshire at an event prior to the pandemic.

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Although from December 3 “essential and non-essential retail, including indoor and outdoor markets and car boot sales” can all reopen in England, the rules for indoor gatherings are less straightforward. Many venues have been unable to confirm future dates – partly due to the backlog of cancelled events and also to the grey areas of the official guidance. In tiers one and two, public attendance at ‘business events’ can resume, but are limited to 50% capacity or 1000 people indoors, whichever is lower. However, conference centres and exhibition halls are not allowed to open for events such as ‘trade shows’ in tier three.

Organisers can continue to host digital events, switch venues or move outdoors.

Continuity Fairs was forced to cancel its event at the Stafford Showground on December 12-13 due to tier three restrictions but now plans an extra fair at one of its regular venues, Epsom Racecourse in Surrey, on December 15. Nick Bayliss, managing director, said: “Normally there is no December fair at Epsom due to Christmas parties held there but with the party scene cancelled this opened up a slot for us. With dealers and collectors being desperate for fairs we jumped at the chance.”

Two examples of dealer-auctioneer cooperation have emerged. The Northern Antiques Fair is moving to Tennants’ auction centre in Leyburn for its next staging (September 30-October 3, 2021 – see News Digest page 8) while the Battersea Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair has teamed up with Bonhams to hold an online-only sale running from January 29 (when the winter fair would have been held) until February 12. More than 70 exhibitors at the fair are also now selling through Digital Decorative (see Dealer’s Diary page 30).

Among the other London events planned next year is the Eye of the Collector, which has a new date of May 12-15 at Two Temple Place, and the dealer-run Connect Art Fair at the Mall Galleries. Connect organiser Anna Wakerley said that, although the January slot was cancelled, a fair later in the year was likely.

The tier levels in England will be reviewed on December 16. Devolved nations of the UK have their own restrictions.

In Wales, indoor entertainment including museums and galleries are currently shut (to be reviewed on December 17) as they are in level three areas of Scotland.

Northern Irish restrictions which run until December 10 mean the public cannot enter the premises of antiques shops, centres and auction houses.

In France shops and auction houses are reopening after a month-long lockdown. Hôtel Drouot has returned to holding auctions on site and online.