INDUSTRY NEWS: Monitoring the burgeoning health situation, the Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia (EEAA), the peak industry body representing the sector, has called on the Australian Government to follow the lead of international governments and declare public events low risk for the spread of the coronavirus. It underscores the importance of supporting a $28 billion industry that employs around 180,000 Australians.

Claudia Sagripanti, EEAA CEO

In a media release issued on March 10, EEAA Chief Executive Claudia Sagripanti stated that it is important for the Australian Government to take a strong stance on the topic. She requested that the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, make a public statement to counter fears regarding the novel coronavirus, as there is no reason to cancel or postpone events such as exhibitions and conferences.

“We want to reassure event attendees that events are and can continue operating in light of current advice from Government.”

“The industry has already responded by implementing guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation and the global leader in exhibitions UFI, such as additional cleaning procedures, providing hand sanitisers, upgrading WH&S protocols and asking event attendees who feel unwell to stay home,” said Ms Sagripanti.

PM Scott Morrison Calls for ‘Patriotism’

During an appearance at the Australian Financial Review Business Summit in Sydney on March 10, Prime Minister Scott Morrison also called on businesses to show “patriotism” as the impacts of the coronavirus hit Australia’s economy.

PM Scott Morrison at the AFR Business Summit

He said all Australians had a part to play in helping the country move successfully through the crisis, describing it as “one of those national interest moments”.

Staying calm, taking sensible precautions and proceeding with ‘business as usual’ is a stance that the EEAA and the events and exhibition industry at large believe is both safe and in the country’s best economic interest.

The government is presently giving public events the green light. The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) – the key decision-making committee in a health emergency – released a statement on 8 March stating:

“At this time the AHPPC consider that public events should proceed, but strongly recommend people that are unwell with cough or fever or other respiratory symptoms should not attend public events or gatherings.”

However, the EEAA is calling for the government to elevate the message and call for calm in the community.

“We are constantly monitoring the developing situation. We are drawing on current advice and information provided by both Federal and State government authorities and the recommended precautions from the World Health Organisation. At this time, there is no clear reason for events to be cancelled,” said Ms Sagripanti.

To support the businesses affected, EEAA in conjunction with Meetings & Events Association (MEA) will host COVID-19 Information Exchanges, in Sydney, Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide.

The Chief Medical Office and Health Departments have been invited to answer questions from the industry. Says Ms Sagripanti:

“The events and exhibition industry is resilient, however, we need to know that all is being done to support this sector which contributes over $28 billion to the economy and provides 180,000 jobs.”

The Australian International Furniture Fair: Business as Usual

Decor + Design and the Australian International Furniture Fair (AIFF) will be taking place as planned in July 2020 at Melbourne Exhibition Centre, 16 – 19 July.

Together these events are Australia’s No.1 Interiors Trade Event and a crucial buying and networking platform for the design and furniture industry.

Part of one of the biggest events companies in the world, Informa, the highly-skilled AIFF exhibition team will be tightening already stringent OH&S standards to ensure the comfort and safety of all exhibitors and attendees. The situation will be closely monitored and all stakeholders will be notified ASAP as to any changes to this position.