CHANGSHA, China — For the first time since January, when the COVID-19 outbreak shut down the economy and exhibitions in China, a major exhibition was held in the country as it begins to reopen. The provincial government in Hunan allowed the 2020 Hunan Auto Show to take place April 30-May 5 at the Hunan International Convention and Exhibition Centre in south central China.
Chinese organizers reported the exhibit space covered 60,000 square meters, and the event drew more than 62,000 attendees over the course of five days, said Michael Kruppe, General Manager of Shanghai New International Expo Centre SNIEC. Kruppe told TSE his staff attended and compiled a report on the show. His staff, who traveled from the Shanghai Hongqiao airport to Changsha, were required to file a civil aviation health statement when they checked in and a local health statement when they arrived at Changsha.
The consumer auto show collected and reviewed the health declaration and codes of all exhibitors, construction works and staff before the exhibition, Kruppe said. All participants were required to wear an ID card and undergo a health and identity check prior to arriving at the venue. Once the health and security screening was cleared, attendees received an entry code through the National Government Affairs Service app, and WeChat was used to facilitate the registration application process.
On site, workers in full protective gear checked and verified each visitor’s ID and temperature each time they entered the exhibition hall. Attendees, who had their hands disinfected by an automatic machine and were given plastic gloves to wear, were instructed to stay 1.5 meters away from each other, Kruppe said. While participants were asked to wear masks throughout and urged to wash hands frequently, video footage shows that wasn’t always the case.
“It seems the show was very well organized, and there was lots of information about hygiene and controls regarding visitors in terms of health checks and social distancing inside the hall,” said Michael Duck, Executive Vice President – Asia, Informa Markets, who did not attend but said the company had representatives on site.
The exhibition hall was responsible for disinfection and sterilization three times per day during move-in and two times per day during the show, Kruppe reported. He said two temporary medical centers were built and set up at the site — one outside the building and on the show floor. Kruppe said he has not heard of any COVID-19 cases reported at the event. A home decoration exhibition is scheduled to be held May 13-15 in Changsha.
Following the completion of the Hunan Auto Show, the Chinese government on May 8 issued guidance that appears to allow conferences and exhibitions to be held with strict prevention measures in place.
“In essence, this means that MICE events will be able to go ahead as necessary all across China,” said Mark Cochrane, UFI’s Regional Manager for Asia/Pacific. “The document does not spell out specific terms and conditions for this. As usual here, this means that the regions and cities will be in charge of the activities under their respective jurisdiction.”
“Our first show in Asia is the Malaysian International Furniture Fair in Kuala Lumpur at the end of June, followed by Secon, a security show in Seoul in July,” Duck said. “We all have some way to go with opening up of airports and allowing visitors from around the world, but we have to start sometime. Hopefully we shall see in Asia the beginnings of the opening of shows, then in Middle East/Europe, then the USA.”
On May 9, Kruppe said he was notified exhibition activities can resume in Shanghai in June.