Coronavirus concerns force cancellation of San Diego County Fair

File photo: Lights of the Midway at the Del Mar fair are a rainbow of colors as the sun goes down as seen from outside the fair grounds on Pacific Coast Highway in 2017.
(John Gibbins / San Diego Union-Tribune)

The Del Mar fair board voted unanimously Tuesday to postpone this summer’s San Diego County Fair until 2021 because of the state’s prohibitions on mass gatherings to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Board President Richard Valdez said that he had planned to delay a decision for another week or more, but Gov. Gavin Newsom’s media briefing earlier in the day made it clear there will be no large gatherings this summer.

“Our vendors are relying on our decision for determining whether they can go forward,” Valdez said. “There is a tremendous amount of preparation and expense involved.”


The event, scheduled for June 5 through July 5, will move to about the same dates next year with the same theme, “Heroes, Unite!” that was planned for this year, fairgrounds General Manager Tim Fennell said.

The fair has attracted more than 1.5 million visitors over its monthlong run in recent years.

“We are in uncharted waters ... and the No. 1 priority is safety,” Fennell said.

Board member Don Mosier, a retired physician, said the governor’s decision is scientifically based and specifies that no large gatherings should be allowed until a vaccine is developed, which could take a year, or until there is “herd immunity.”

Herd immunity requires at least 50% to 60% of the population to have had the vaccine or have survived the virus, which would require widespread testing to determine.

“The cautious step is no large gatherings,” Mosier said.

Diehl writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune.