Claudia Sagripanti says more needs to be done to calm fears. Credit: EEAA
AUSTRALIA - The body representing the events and exhibition industry, EEAA, has requested the country's chief medical officer, professor Brendan Murphy to make a public statement declaring that despite fears regarding COVID-19, there is "no reason to cancel or postpone events such as exhibitions, conferences and other business meetings".
Ms Claudia Sagripanti, chief executive, Exhibition & Event Association of Australasia (EEAA), the industry body representing the sector, said it was important for the Australian Government to declare public events low risk for the spread of the virus.
"We want to reassure event attendees that events are, and can continue, operating in light of current advice from the 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 WHS protocols and asking event attendees who feel unwell to stay home," said Ms Sagripanti.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) had 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.
"The events and exhibition industry is resilient, however, we need to know that all is being done to support this sector which contributes over A$28 billion (US$18.37 billion) to the economy and provides 180,000 jobs," 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 information exchange sessions are designed to provide a forum for open and frank discussion on how the industry is coping with the current crisis - the realities and challenges being faced and the short-term and long-term approaches being taken.
The feedback from across the country will be collated and sent to the government through its membership of Business Events Council of Australia (BECA) to educate and provide the government with an understanding of the implications being experienced by the sector.