As live, in-person meetings and events return to parts of Asia, event planners, venues and suppliers are examining new ways of working that adhere to a long list of health and safety requirements to prevent the spread of Covd-19.
In Malaysia, industry stakeholders say they are confident when it comes to implementing hygiene and safe distancing measures, but remain unsure about how to respond if a case of Covid-19 is
At the recent Malaysia Business Events Week (MBEW) 2020, several
participants noted that they and their clients were not sure who was
liable for testing, hospitalisation, and cancellation costs if a
participant were to test positive.
Someone noted that it would be hard to pinpoint when the participant
or speaker contracted the disease as they were only at the venue for a
certain portion of the time.
Speaking to M&C Asia, Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre
general manager, Alan Pryor, said the cost of testing, hospitalisation
and medical treatment falls under the purview of the individual. He
added that the event organiser/venue should immediately advise the Health
Ministry of any suspected or confirmed cases.
“The event organiser is responsible for obtaining and recording
[movement data] of all attendees while the venue maintains records of
all its staff (for contact tracing purposes),” he said.
Yap Lip Seng, CEO of the Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH)
agreed, saying that if there is an on-site detection, hotels follow new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for MICE that
include using a quarantine area/room and a designated route to that
area, and all hotel guests and employees are evacuated while the
property is cleaned and disinfected. According to Yap, government
guidelines state that these costs have to be borne by the event
organiser and venue.
Pryor, who is also the chairman of the Business Events Council of
Malaysia (BECM) and worked with government and the Malaysian Convention & Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) to draft
SOPs related to Covid-19, believes venues should take the lead in advising clients of their
responsibilities and ensure requirements are fully complied with.
“SOP procedures and relevant liability cover should be communicated
to attendees via the event organiser,” he
In the case of virus detection, the SOPs also state that venue must be locked-down. Cancellation of an event would incur costs, obviously, and Pryor said this is normally covered under the force majeure clause of venue hire contracts.
BECM, MAH and MyCEB have unanimously appealed to MICE stakeholders to be vigilant, especially since auxiliary police or security officers will likely monitor events.
A Temporary Measures Bill to reduce the impact of Covid-19 passed in Parliament on 25 August will suspend non-performance of contractual obligations due to the pandemic, retrospectively from 18 March to 31 December, 2020. But what of events with contracts outside of these date?
At MBEW 2020, Charles Pereira from Pacific & Orient Insurance
stated that currently no insurer will provide a new policy that covers
Covid-19. So, where does that leave Malaysia's MICE industry?
Sharing responsibility in Singapore
Meanwhile, in Singapore, a long list of enforcement measures have
been rolled out to support larger events, which can take place from 1
However, planners are required to seek approval from the Singapore
Tourism Board (STB) and the Ministry of Trade and Industry before
hosting an event, and the stringent application process will help to
keep stakeholders in check.
For example, the event organiser and the venue must jointly submit an
application. This must be done at least one month prior to the intended
event date, and the approval process can take up to two
According to STB, applications must demonstrate readiness and capabilities to implement these five Safe Management Measures (SMMs), where emergency preparedness is high on the list.
This includes developing clear reporting protocols and
communication plans to monitor the health of local and foreign attendees
before, during and after the event; and providing training for staff to ensure they are able to respond to emergency situations.
Event organisers are required to submit two post-event reports to STB.
The first report must be submitted one day after the end of the event,
detailing any incident relevant to the SMMs; providing photographic
evidence of SMMs being deployed, as well as attendee surveys and
feedback. The second report must be submitted 14 days after the end of
the event to report on the status of health of all
And if someone breaches the SMMs, both the event organiser and event
venue are jointly responsible. Enforcement officers will investigate breaches to determine which party is liable, or if both parties are
liable. Hefty fines apply — first-time breaches can incur a fine of up to S$10,000 and possible jail time, and event planners who break the rules will not be granted approval for future events.
More information on the SMMs can be found here.