ATLANTA — UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, and SISO, the Society for Independent Show Organizers, are urging global policymakers and governments to focus on rapid antigen COVID tests.
“Our industry recognizes that we must provide a safe environment for our exhibitors and attendees to feel confident enough to come to our events again in the near term. In addition to providing safe, clean venues, and requiring everyone at an event to wear a mask and maintain some distance, the most important single item for rebuilding confidence is going to be having reliable rapid testing for all people at an event. Daily testing will allow us to provide the safest possible events for all participants,” said SISO Executive Director David Audrain.
SISO has formed a Testing Task Force with a core group of the most senior executives from many of the largest organizers, as well as a leading medical expert. “This Task Force will share information and resources to get reliable rapid testing available to the whole industry, as soon as possible, along with recommendations on how to create and implement a plan for managing an onsite testing program,” Audrain added.
UFI and SISO issued the following statement signed by UFI President Mary Larkin (President, Diversified Communications USA) and SISO Chair Doug Emslie (Group Chief Executive, Tarsus Group):
“Around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has already caused a global recession, unlike anything we have seen in generations. 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 exhibitions industry possesses one of the critical skills for any economic recovery: It sets up and operates the marketplaces and meeting places for industries and communities to meet for business. Trade shows and exhibitions are organized events, as recognized by the WHO and governments. They are not unorganized mass gatherings. In recent months, 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.”
At the same time, hundreds of relevant trade shows have to be canceled or postponed, as buyers and sellers cannot plan to attend, primarily due to travel restrictions and fast-changing quarantine regulations. For economies to recover, for sectors to restart, the business community needs clarity and reliable regulations for the coming months.
“Rapid antigen COVID tests are reliable and becoming widely available. 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.
“Rapid testing can be applied pre- and post-flight and at the check-in points for events — replacing the need for people to quarantine if tests are negative. Combined with the existing safety measures around events, this will create a safe and reliable framework for business professionals to engage and can overcome the current impasse that is causing additional economic damage every day.
“As a sector, we stand ready to implement rapid testing processed around our organized events. We ask governments and authorities to work with our sector, to activate our knowledge and expertise, to make sure businesses can meet and do business throughout the current pandemic.”