The Chelsea Flower Show and a number of other garden events have been cancelled due to coronavirus fears.
The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) took the decision to cancel the London event, which was scheduled to take place from May 19-23, following the latest Government Covid-19 advice.
The society said that with the Government “no longer supporting mass gathering events” all RHS shows, garden events and school visits will be cancelled with immediate effect until June 30.
Following the Government update on 16 March and the ongoing situation with COVID-19, all RHS Shows, Garden Events and school visits will be cancelled with immediate effect until 30 June 2020. RHS Gardens remain open, with a number of increased precautionary measures in place.— The RHS (@The_RHS) March 17, 2020
Billed as a “glamorous and quintessentially British” event, the Chelsea Flower Show sees thousands of people flock to the grounds of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to catch a glimpse of celebrity guests and members of the royal family who regularly attend.
Famous faces at previous shows include actress Dame Judi Dench, food writer Mary Berry and television presenter Phillip Schofield.
While gardens will remain open, the RHS said there will be “a number of increased precautionary measures in place”.
The RHS said in a statement: “This is a worldwide, unprecedented and challenging time for so many people and of course the health and safety of our members, visitors, exhibitors and staff remains our number one priority.”
According to the RHS website, it is the first time Chelsea Flower Show has been cancelled since the Second World War.
A number of other shows scheduled for the coming months have been cancelled, including Flower Show Cardiff and Malvern Spring Festival.
We will contact everyone who has purchased a ticket and everyone will have the option of a full refund back within 21 days. We will be contacting everyone involved in the Shows about the cancellation of these events. https://t.co/14ez8GZpRl— The RHS (@The_RHS) March 17, 2020
The society said holders of tickets for all cancelled shows will be contacted and offered full refunds.
RHS director-general Sue Biggs said: “As with everyone, we have no crystal ball, but for the time being we are planning our summer flower shows and our gardens remain open, as they are large outside spaces where people can escape in open space and benefit from some tranquillity and beauty, surrounded by nature – all things that are much needed during these unsettling times.
“Things of course may change, but, whatever decisions we make, safety will be utmost in our mind and we will, like the rest of the world, be monitoring the situation closely.”