Coronavirus COVID-19 position statement for producers & traders
Updated: 1 September 2020
The COVID-19 situation is an international crisis and it is the small businesses, like all in the #eatfestivalsfamily, that always bear the brunt of a crisis like this. We’re a social enterprise and we need our festivals to work for you all, especially now.
We recognise that the financial effect of this virus and government restrictions on movements are not covered by any event insurance. Like you all, we’re hoping for the best & planning for the worst.
Our T&Cs state that in cases of abandonment or cancellation due to factors beyond our control, we cannot be responsible for financial loss. This reflects the fact that the majority of cost and work involved in the production of a festival is done in the months and weeks beforehand.
However, we do our best to make sure that we give as much notice as possible so that traders can cut back their risk of wasted product and labour. e.g. When we had to cancel Portishead due to extreme weather we were able to give 5 days notice because we paid for direct consultation with the Met Office.
We can imagine scenarios where we are forced to cancel for a reason that is within our control - e.g. our personal accident, family emergency or a contractual relationship with a key community sponsor. In this instance we would refund pitch fees and give as much notice as possible.
Regarding the situation with COVID-19 and how that affects our festivals, our understanding is this:
1 - food and drink markets have been allowed to continue, provided they follow Covid Secure guidelines, throughout lockdown and recent months. We have increased the emphasis on the market element of our festivals and taken out the entertainment, workshop and performance elements.
2 - several event organisers have taken the decision to cancel for 2 main reasons; a - the added cost of running events make it seem not commercially viable for them , or b - the group of volunteers or committee that runs it do not have the capacity, in time, skills or finances, to make the required adjustments.
3 - eat:Festivals have taken the view that, given that many of the micro-producers who trade with us make the majority of their revenue from sales at our markets, we should do everything in our power to continue. The definitive control over events is with the Director of Public Health in Somerset. We liaise closely with all district and county level officers with a remit for safety and public health, and have responded to all their requests to date. However there is a chance that, if the statistics indicate a high level of alert in Somerset, the Director of Public Health may decide to close down all events. In this instance we're not able to refund fees but would give as much notice of this decision as possible and try to help traders choose alternative sales routes.
4 - the improvements and adaptations that traders have made to their set-up have been under scrutiny from Environmental Health and Police departments since our restart in August, and have been very well received. It plays a big part in how our events are able to proceed. We continue to advise traders, by email and the closed facebook group, on how to be seen to be trading safely.
Our determination to continue means that there is not a definitive way to guarantee whether they will go ahead. There's risk involved but it's a shared risk - we graft for months beforehand to make the events happen and we are doing everything we can to protect that trading opportunity for you all.
We love what we do and we do what we do for producers and traders like you
We have published our COVID-19 Response Plan and that has responsibilities for producers to adhere to. The full document can be found here.
Extensive guidance has been issued to businesses under the umbrella of “COVID secure guidelines” by the UK government. This is the baseline that all our producers must adhere to. These action points for producers are in addition to any government guidance and are based on our observations at other markets.
eat:Festivals aim to connect lives with the land, to make meaningful links between communities and the food and drink producers around them.