A guide to manage venues as emergency facilities

UFI and AIPC have launched a guide to help venues which have been converted into emergency centres

An emergency centre: many convention and exhibition centres have had to adapt quickly to new working conditions such as 24/7 hours. Credit: UFI

PARIS - Exhibition venues and convention centres around the world are currently increasingly being converted into temporary hospitals and health centres in the global fight against COVID-19.

A new guide, produced jointly by AIPC, the International Association of Convention Centres (AIPC) and the Global Association of the Exhibition industry (UFI), assists members in dealing with these requests.

The guide will be distributed to all AIPC and UFI members to support them in what for many is a new experience with limited precedent. It follows on from the Good Practices Guide to COVID-19 for Convention and Exhibition Centres guidebook that was produced and distributed in early March.

The second guide was produced by both associations within a few weeks as many members are being called upon to use their centres as temporary emergency, housing or testing centres.

UFI president, Mary Larkin, said: "…the experience of conversion to emergency use - and the re-commissioning once the crisis has passed - is currently limited. This guide will help all member venues prepare for and perform in an exceptional role that they were not specifically designed for but are increasingly being asked or forced to play as temporary emergency facilities".

AIPC president, Mr Aloysius Arlando, said: "As a result of the professionalism, generosity and expertise of AIPC and UFI members - particularly those who are members of our Safety and Security Task Force - it incorporates some of the very latest front-line insights that have been and will continue to be gained in the midst of the crisis itself."

The guide has been created as a collaborative project between the two organisations to promote efficiency and consistency amongst different types of member venues. It provides both specific guidance and a framework within which centres can organise their activities in order to put to full use the relevant, practical information and experiences that are accumulating based on the actions of many centres worldwide.

CEO Boardroom@Crisis BV, Mr Glenn Schoen, said it was crucial for venue operators to engage authorities to address issues as early as possible to minimise insurance and legal liabilities, and compliance issues.

He added that as venues prepare to be set up at temporary emergency facilities, staff need to be prepared for 24/7 working hours and new terminology in dealing with engineers, architects and hospital staff. Operations will need to be able to track, log and monitor progress, enforce routines and key procedures. Staff who are working from home must feel involved and know the timeline.

"As challenging as such conversions may be, they will inevitably result in enhanced overall capabilities over the long term, and strengthen centre capabilities for the future", said Ms Larkin.

The guide's contributors include the following venues:
•    AsiaWord-Expo Hong Kong
•    NEC Birmingham
•    SEC Centre Glasgow
•    Fiera Milano
•    Fira Barcelona
•    Espacio Riesco Santiago, Chile
•    RAI Amsterdam
•    Reed Messe Wien

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