PROMOTERS of Ramsbottom's chocolate festival have confirmed coronavirus has caused their 2020 gathering to be postponed.

Festival organisers have been liaising with Bury Council and public health officials and have decided to delay the event, which was due to take place on April 4 and 5.

Those behind the festival, which sees Bridge Street cordoned off each year, say the decision has left them with a bill in excess of £15,000.

A festival spokesman said: "After careful consideration and contacting Bury Council, who in turn contacted Public Health and health (and) safety for guidance we, the organisers, have decided that at this time it is sensible to postpone the Chocolate Festival to a later date to be confirmed for business and welfare reasons.

"At present there is not advice from Public Health to cancel or postpone events which are due to take place.

"But the feedback that we have received is that this situation may change in the intervening weeks and that the decision could be made close to when the event was due to take place.

"Cancelling the event at short notice has a huge financial impact for ourselves as organisers with costs exceeding £15,000 which if the event was to not go ahead is obviously a huge loss, with most traders making fresh food again they could also potentially face massive losses.

"We feel that this is too high a business risk for everyone involved in this current climate and particularly given the information that we are reading daily in the press potentially discouraging visitors to the event.

"We have seen that other events have started to be cancelled. The businesses that we have spoken to are reporting that it has had substantial impact already on customer/visitor numbers. How this matter will play out over the next four weeks is too much of an unknown."

Promoters have pledged that any application already made to be a part of the festival will be held on file until a new date can be arranged.

The spokesman added: "The festival is a busy and well attended event which has been supported for many years by loyal visitors, we hope that they understand that the decision to postpone has been made to safeguard the wellbeing of visitors, traders and staff and also to alleviate any potential monetry losses should an event be cancelled last minute.

"We know that some people may be disappointed but really hope that they will understand that this decision has been made to protect many businesses and visitors.

"It is felt it will be a better decision to hold the event at a later date when the current situation has passed."