Effects of Covid -19 on Associations and their Events

Association news
Published on 1 March 2020

Associations and their delegates and partners are concerned about the effect of Covid-19 on their events, which are a vital part of the value the associations provide, and a huge annual catalyst for business and advances and improvements in their sectors and professions.

How are associations and event organisers reacting?

Events are being cancelled that were to take place in China, South Korea and other highly-effected areas, either postponing them or moving them to another location. Many associations are banning delegates from highly-affected countries and areas, however akward.

Most of the event cancellations are large consumer or corporate events. The Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, which cancelled last month, although a business event, had a substantial proportion of delegates from China and other affected areas.

Association events are proceeding every day. Here are a few examples: The International Conference on Advanced Technologies & Treatments for Diabetes has just gone ahead with record-breaking attendance over over 3,800 delegates, with sensible precautions adopted. The European Society of Anaesthesiology's summit on 3 & 4 March proceeded with good attendance in Brussels.

The Microbiology Society annual conference, with world-leading specialists on viruses, is proceeding as planned in a few weeks time.

Ori Lahav, VP clients & operations at Kenes Group, one of the largest conference organisers in the world, said: “It is a challenge to organise international meetings in times of a growing epidemic such as COVID-19. However, we have to remember that staying calm, analysing the situation and the risks, is of key importance."

AAE's Associations World Congress 2020

AAE's own Associations Congress, 15-17 April is in Portugal, a country currently with only 1-2 occurences and doing much work to protect and prevent spread (more info). The event has 400 attendees, with none from China, South Korea, northern Italy or other majorly effected areas..

In discussion with the local Mayor's office, the event is considered "low risk" and all preparations are proceeding, with additional actions to minimize risks onsite, including:

  • all attendees are required to confirm they have not had cold-like symptoms or raised temperature in the last 30 days;
  • hand-gels are providing at the entrance to the congress venue and throughout the building;
  • hand-shakes and kissing is to be replaced by other gestures
  • business cards will be swapped digitally with the new Mobile App
What about flying?

Advice from Dr Carmen Dolea, Head of the International Health Regulations Secretariat of the WHO is: Aircraft cabins are absolutely not dangerous and travellers do not need to cancel their plans unless visiting restricted areas. Passengers should take into account the various restrictions that airlines and governments are putting in place IATA maintains an up-to-date list on its Travel Center website. View www.iatatravelcentre.com

The best thing to do in aircraft cabins is to practise proper hand hygeine with alcohol-based rub or gels and to use coughing etiquette. Make sure you cough and sneese into a tissue and throw it in a bin, or into your elbow if you need to. The virus can live on surfaces but only for a short time. If someone on a flight appears ill, flight crew are traines in how to isolate them.

How will our behaviour change? 

Society is already re-acting to stop the virus, however a cultural shift to change our habits so as to defeat not just future lethal diseases, but also ones as harmless as the common cold. People with colds and raised temperatures shouldn't go to work or attend parties and shake hands or kiss. Conference delegates should as a matter of course avoid physical touching and transfer. Technology companies need to make it as easy to exchange details using a Mobile app rather than a business card.

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Update 3 | 08:00, 4.3.2020