CONCORD, N.C. — An animal rights group is pushing to cancel a reptile show in Cabarrus County over coronavirus concerns.
Hundreds of people are expected to gather in Concord this weekend for Repticon, an annual reptile and exotic animal convention.
Health officials gave the green light, making it the first event at the Cabarrus County arena since the pandemic. Organizers told Channel 9′s Tina Terry that they are making major changes to protect the public from COVID-19.
The historically popular event has drawn crowds of up to 3,000 people eager to see and buy exotic animals.
ASM Global manages the arena and said everyone will be required to wear a mask this year. There will also be temperature screenings for staff and the public and a limited number of people will be allowed inside the building at one time.
Still, a group called World Animal Protection sent a letter to the county asking them to cancel the event over concerns of not only the coronavirus, but also about the spread of other infectious diseases through reptiles.
“At a time when there is a national emergency when cases are going up, it seems entirely the wrong time to be hosting an event a live animal market where animal diseases could be transmitted from animals to humans, World Animal Protection Program Director Ben Williamson said.
The county sent the following statement:
“We sought direction for the Repitcon Event from NC Department of Health and Human Services, and was told that for the event to be in compliance with the Executive Order, organizers would need to follow the Retail Business guidance outlined by DHHS.”
The Cabarrus County Fair, which was scheduled for Sept. 11- Sept. 19 has been canceled. Officials said they went through multiple scenarios to see if they could hold the event, but eventually decided that it wasn’t worth the risk. The fair has drawn up to 80,000 people in the past.