By Michelle Graff
New York—Diamond miner Alrosa became the latest jewelry industry player forced to alter its plans because of the coronavirus.

The company said Wednesday that it is moving its March auction of special-size rough diamonds from Hong Kong to Moscow. The rough auction will take place March 2 to 18.

Ramat Gan, Israel will host the company’s polished diamond auction; dates will be announced later.

Alrosa usually holds its auctions in Hong Kong in March, in conjunction with the jewelry trade shows there.

But show organizer Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) announced earlier this week it was moving the shows to May after news surfaced that the coronavirus had spread to the city.

The Hong Kong International Diamond, Gem & Pearl show, originally scheduled for March 2-6, and the Hong Kong International Jewellery Show, set for March 4-8, are both rescheduled for May 18-21.

Both shows will take place at the AsiaWorld-Expo.

HKTDC also said it is closing its SME Centre and the Design Gallery stores at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre and PMQ until Feb. 9, and postponing a career fair and a promotional event in Manila, The Philippines.

The council said it “is closely monitoring the situation and communicating closely with Hong Kong’s Centre for Health Protection (CHP). We will stringently take appropriate measures when new information comes to light or the CHP issues new instructions.”

The novel coronavirus originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan on Dec. 31.

Since then, the virus has spread to 26 countries including the United States and infected more than 24,554 people, causing 492 deaths, according to Wednesday’s update from the World Health Organization.

The vast majority of confirmed cases, 24,363, are isolated to China, though the WHO rates the risk the disease poses globally as high.

The coronavirus is impacting industries worldwide, including the jewelry industry.

Earlier this week, Pandora’s CEO said the disease has the company’s business in the key Chinese market at a “standstill.” It has been forced to close 70 of its 240 locations there (nearly 30 percent) while foot traffic at the stores that remain open is basically nil.

And Swatch Group canceled its “Time to Move” event scheduled for late February/early March in Zurich, Switzerland in order to “prevent their partners from travelling internationally in an insecure climate.”

Swatch introduced “Time to Move,” a mini-trade show for retailers and press, last year after pulling out of Baselworld. Time to Move 2020 was slated for Feb. 28-March 2 for retailers and March 4-6 for press.

The company said it will introduce its new watches to retailers and press during regional events later in the year. Dates and locations have yet to be announced.

While some companies are changing plans because of the coronavirus, organizers of the upcoming Bangkok jewelry show are not.

The 65th Bangkok Gems and Jewelry Fair, scheduled for Feb. 25-29 at the Impact, will go on as scheduled.

In a letter shared with National Jeweler Thursday, Somdet Susomboon, director general of Thailand’s Department of International Trade Promotion, outlined what the country is doing, and will do, to ensure visitors’ health and safety during the show.

Precautions include the installation of thermal scanners and infrared thermometers to identify potentially infected people; spraying disinfectant at the fairgrounds; providing hand sanitizer at all entrances, toilets and meetings rooms; providing masks; and setting up a coronavirus screening unit.

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