In what will be a blow to many rural communities, the Irish Shows Association (ISA) has recommended that agricultural shows should not go ahead this year in light of COVID-19.

The association said it had waited for as long as possible before taking the decision but that the guidance it had sought had not been forthcoming from the relevant authorities.

Although the association does not have the power to cancel shows, it pointed out that even when Level 5 lockdown restrictions lifted there would be issues with holding outdoor events.

“Even at level 1 in the current framework, the maximum number of people for an outdoor gathering would be 200-500. This would not be viable for most of our member shows.

“The regulations are different in Northern Ireland, but the dates for reopening are still somewhat unclear. We will continue to liaise with the relevant authorities on both sides of the border and advise our member shows accordingly,” ISA said.

“We hope that the relevant departments will work with us to allow for a safe resumption of shows. Our shows are such an integral part of rural communities and the economy, along with being a social outlet for so many of our supporters and volunteers throughout the country.”

The ISA thanked the Department of Rural and Community Development for its continued support and said the €600,000 awarded in 2020 was still ringfenced for shows in 2021 if they were able to go ahead.