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Coronavirus: Belfast conferences cancelled or postponed as crisis gathers pace

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Two major conferences due to take place in Belfast have been cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus.   (Jane Barlow/PA)

Two major conferences due to take place in Belfast have been cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus. (Jane Barlow/PA)

Two major conferences due to take place in Belfast have been cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus. (Jane Barlow/PA)

Two major conferences due to take place in Belfast have been cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus.

The Royal Economic Society's (RES) conference was due to be held at Queen's University in early April but has been cancelled.

EComm Live, which was to take place on April 29 and 30 at W5 in the Odyssey, has been postponed until September.

The postponements are having a ripple effect on other businesses in the city.

Publican Willie Jack, who owns the Duke of York, the Harp Bar, the Dark Horse and the Friend at Hand whiskey shop, said the coronavirus has had a detrimental impact on corporate bookings.

"We have noticed a fairly dramatic amount of cancellations in our corporate business in The Dark Horse," he added.

"These would be social events attached to conferences. Rightly so, they are concerned and they have decided to postpone these events."

The RES said the decision followed constant monitoring of the situation by RES officers and staff and had taken into account the latest available information.

It added that the 2021 annual conference would be held at Queen's University.

Professor Rachel Griffith, the president of the RES, explained: "We are very sad that this year's conference has had to be cancelled. We were looking forward to some fantastic keynotes and some great research being presented.

"I am particularly sorry that our women's mentoring session and our PhD symposium will not be held."

Professor Nola Hewitt-Dundas, the head of Queen's management school, added: "We are disappointed not to host the Royal Economic Society's 2020 conference, but we greatly look forward to welcoming the RES back in 2021."

Registered delegates will be contacted to arrange a refund.

Meanwhile, the organisers behind ecommerce event eComm Live 2020 have rescheduled it to September 23 and 24.

The organisers said: "We feel that running eComm Live in the current climate would not allow us to deliver that type of conference experience for our delegates, speakers and sponsors.

"Our delegates, exhibitors and sponsors are what make our events special.

"We have to put your safety and enjoyment first - and also that of our team."

All training and conference tickets will automatically transfer to the September event.

While some conferences have been postponed or cancelled in Belfast, others have gone ahead.

International procurement company HelmsBriscoe yesterday closed a three-day meeting at Belfast's Hilton Hotel.

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