Anyone who, just like every year, came to Numismata on Saturday, 7 March 2020 at 9 a.m. in order to buy his ticket in time experienced a disappointment. Posters said that the event had been cancelled in consultation with the Regional Administrative Office. The reactions? Well, they were as different as the human race. There were those who felt deceived, who were angry at the organisers, at the Regional Administrative Office, at the government. Others were happy to have known everything in advance. And there were those who quietly went back home or headed for the city of Munich.
Thanks to the cancellation of Numismata, the Munich coin cabinet had a record number of visitors. Although it was Saturday, Gorny & Mosch opened their office in order to offer stranded numismatists at least a heated room. Künker’s viewing took place as planned. In order to protect visitors and employees, everyone who entered the premises had their hands disinfected.
Was It Predictable?
Of course, the question arises whether the organisers could have anticipated the cancellation of Numismata. At the beginning of last week, CoinsWeekly called the organisers for the research of the article published on 6 March 2020. During this conversation, we found out that the Munich Regional Administrative Office had given its permission for the event despite the tense situation caused by the coronavirus. But what changed between Tuesday, 3 March and Friday, 6 March, when Numismata was cancelled between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m.?
South Tyrol Is to Blame
A glance at the media reveals that only one event can be responsible for this shift of opinion. On Thursday evening, the Berlin Robert-Koch-Institute declared South Tyrol to be a region particularly at risk for the spread of the coronavirus. On Friday morning, the Federal Foreign Office issued another travel warning for Italy, this time, for Munich’s favourite ski area: South Tyrol. It is easy to imagine how those responsible at the Munich Regional Administrative Office reacted to this travel warning. Many people from Munich use to travel to South Tyrol for the weekend to go skiing. And many coin collectors from South Tyrol regularly attend Numismata. However, the permission had been granted.
On Saturday morning, the rumour spread among the dismantling coin dealers that a senior official of the Regional Administrative Office had called the organisers on Friday evening – and thus twelve hours before the start of Numismata – in order to tell them that much higher security provisions had to be implemented at short notice. He told them that it was impossible to implement these new provisions within the short time available and therefore it was decided to cancel the event because of the unaffordable claims for compensation associated with it.
That fits well. The stamp fair Philatelia, which took place at the same time, was still being run on Friday 6 March. On 7 March, only the exhibitors were allowed to enter the hall in order to dismantle their booths. The same happened regarding the Munich wine fair Vinessio. It was cancelled on Saturday, 7 March at 9.16 a.m. – less than three hours before it was meant to open.
What Happens Now?
Currently, there are heated debates in Bavaria about the financial support for companies affected by government activities because of the coronavirus. Perhaps the State of Bavaria also considers the exhibitors of Numismata to be among the commercial enterprises that need support in this situation.
Statement of the Organisers
Anyway, on the Numismata website you can currently read the following text:
“We are deeply sorry that we found ourselves constrained to cancel NUMISMATA at short notice. We apologize to all visitors especially to those who travelled far in order to come to Munich. Nevertheless, we really want to express our gratitude to the many exhibitors who reacted with such an aplomb showing us that they were aware of the difficult situation. We will contact exhibitors directly soon.”
Here you can access the NUMISMATA website.
The Munich vine fair Vinessio was cancelled right before opening, too.
This website lists the travel and safety instruction for Italy of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany. And here you can read the foreign travel advice of the UK government. Attention, these instructions can change at any time.
The people living in South Tyrol are most surprised that they are a risk area now. Until today, two people have tested positive for the coronavirus; about 200 people are in domestic quarantine.