Coronavirus and Meetings
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The Society for Independent Show Organizers and UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, have jointly called for policy makers and governments around the globe to prioritize policies that will facilitate the safe flow of people. An approach that favors "testing over quarantine," they say, will rely more heavily on the potential of rapid antigen Covid-19 tests and permit safe gatherings in higher numbers.
"Around the world, the Covid-19 pandemic has already caused a global recession unlike anything we have seen in generations," reads the statement, signed by Doug Emslie, group chief executive of Tarsus Group and SISO chair, and Mary Larkin, president of Diversified Communications, USA, and UFI president. "Going forward, and until the global community has developed and rolled out vaccination programs, we have to find the best solutions possible to maintain the flow of people, products, and services. This is needed to stabilize business, to avoid economic hardships for citizens around the world as government support programs are being scaled back over time."
The statement goes on to emphasize the significance of the exhibitions industry in business and economic recovery, and notes the distinction between trade shows as organized events vs. unorganized mass gatherings. "In recent months," the statement notes, "hundreds of trade shows have taken place, predominantly in Asia, the Middle East and Europe, with health and safety measures in place, based on global industry standards and aligned with local regulations. Not one of them has caused a Covid outbreak."
Simultaneously, hundreds of trade shows have been cancelled or postponed based on travel restrictions, quarantines and capacity limits. "For economies to recover, for sectors to restart, the business community needs clarity and reliable regulations for the coming months," reads the statement.
"Rapid antigen Covid tests are reliable and becoming widely available," the organizations added. "These rapid tests provide the best solution for creating a safe environment to hold managed business events. We call on governments and authorities to follow a 'testing before quarantine' approach for business-related travel and activities.
"We ask governments and authorities to work with our sector, and to activate our knowledge and expertise, to make sure businesses can meet and do business throughout the current pandemic."