Food & Wine Event in Houston Postponed Due to Coronavirus Travel Advisories
Although there are still no confirmed coronavirus cases reported in Houston, concerns about its spread in Italy and travel difficulties has led to the postponement of an annual food and wine event. The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce South Central postponed its annual Taste of Italy conference in Houston and New Orleans. The Italy-America Chamber of Commerce West chapter did the same with its showcase in Los Angeles, which was scheduled for April 2. These events, which are open to consumers, are some of the largest that focus exclusively on authentic Italian wine and food. Originally, the Houston conference was scheduled for March 29 through 30, and the New Orleans one was on the following day.
IACC stated that events have been postponed due to “news reports of U.S. carrier flight cancellations to and from northern Italy and the U.S. government’s newly announced screening policy for travelers arriving in the country from Italy.” On Saturday, February 29, the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs put a Do Not Travel alert on the Veneto and Lombardy regions. The remainder of Italy is under a Reconsider Travel advisory. The Centers For Disease Control has a similar warning, advising travelers to not go to that country unless it’s absolutely essential.
According to The Guardian, as of this morning 52 people in Italy have died due to coronavirus and there are 1,835 confirmed cases.
The Taste of Italy event, now in its sixth year, features over 500 Italian food and wine products, tastings and educational panels. This year’s guest speakers included master sommelier Steven McDonald, wine director for Pappas Bros. Steakhouse, as well as wine writer Dale Robertson and barbecue columnist J.C. Reid, both of the Houston Chronicle.
As of now, there’s no way to know when it can be rescheduled. Like so much else related to novel coronavirus, this is a wait-and-see situation.