LEADING drag artists have postponed visits to the Borders in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

RuPaul's Drag Race star Ariel Versace is among the performers whose shows have been put on ice.

Organiser On The Brinck Promotions had been due to bring the queens to towns including Innerleithen, Galashiels and Penicuik.

Phil Walker, of On The Brinck, said: "We are deeply disappointed and very sorry about any inconvenience this may cause and we hope people can understand our reasoning."

Refunds are being distributed while potential alternative dates are considered.

One of the shows being planned for a future date is the Borders' first visit by a queen from season 11 of US series RuPaul's Drag Race.

Ariel Versace was the fifth drag queen to leave the show last year, and made her mark as the "life-size Bratz doll" of the series.

Returning UK Drag Race winner, The Vivienne, has also had her upcoming Borders performances halted.

UK club favourite Danny Beard, a Britain's Got Talent semi-finalist in 2016, has also had their show postponed. It was due to take place at Hemelvaart Bier Café, Ayton, on March 27.

However, On The Brinck have not cancelled Danny's show at the Vale Club, Innerleithen, on May 16, with plans to monitor the developing situation until then.

The postponed shows were set to be held in the Memorial Hall, Innerleithen, Penicuik Miners' Club, and the Volunteer Hall, Galashiels, from March 20 until Monday, April 14.

Mr Walker, from On The Brinck, told us: "On The Brinck is committed to ensuring our events are a safe space for all attendees.

"As part of this commitment, we have taken the difficult decision to cancel next weekend’s event with The Vivienne which was to be held on Sunday, March 22 in Galashiels.

"We have also been forced to postpone our Borders dates with Drag Race US star Ariel Versace due to the travel restrictions imposed by Donald Trump.

"With the recent spike in Covid-19 cases in Scotland and the UK Government’s move from a ‘contain’ to a ‘delay’ phase, it would be irresponsible of us to ignore the potential risks for transmission that could arise from facilitating a large-scale public event.

"Whilst we recognise the risks of transmission, we do not wish to panic people. There are many people who will only experience mild, if any symptoms.

"It is important to follow the best scientific advice and instructions so as to protect the small percentage of people who could potentially be seriously affected by this virus as well as trying to manage/reduce the impact on our health service.

"We will look to reschedule these shows later in the year, however as we are currently unable to confirm dates we have refunded all orders.

"We are deeply disappointed and very sorry about any inconvenience this may cause and we hope people can understand our reasoning."

The Drag Race showcases and Drag Royalty Party events, organised by On The Brinck and led by renowned drag host, Lourde Godd, had drawn in crowds from across the region when they began in January with shows featuring The Vivienne and her UK season one sister, Baga Chipz.

To reassure drag fans in the Borders, Mr Walker added: "Don’t worry everyone, this won’t be forever. We’re confident that we’ll all be taking selfies with Drag Queens again very soon."