Event leaders urge rapid antigen Covid tests

UFI joins forces with independent trade show organisers and calls on authorities to place testing over quarantine to revive ailing business events industry and help rejuvenate economy

LAWMAKERS and governments worldwide are being called on to start the use of Covid testing instead of quarantine to let trade shows and business events go ahead as key drivers of the economy.

UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, and SISO, the Society for Independent Show Organisers have urged authorities to introduce rapid antigen Covid tests among other safety measures.

Stuart Bailey, chairman of Hong Kong Exhibition and Convention Industry Association, has backed the campaign by business events leaders, saying: “”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.”

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Bailey added in another social media posting after inspecting health protocols at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre: “I recently took a look at the measures that have been put in place in Hong Kong with HKCEC deputy-MD Thomas Tong and can confidently say that you are safer visiting an exhibition in [Hong Kong than when] you are walking down the street.”

The organisers’ statement was signed by UFI president Mary Larkin, who is also president of Diversified Communications, USA and SISO chairman Doug Emslie, group chief executive of Tarsus.

It said the increasing availability of rapid antigen Covid tests provides the “best solution for creating a safe environment to hold managed business events”.

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“We call on governments and authorities to follow a ‘testing before quarantine’ approach for business related travel and activities.

“Trade shows and exhibitions are organised events, as recognised by the WHO and governments. They are not unorganised mass gatherings.

“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… overcome the current impasse that is causing additional economic damage every day.

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“As a sector, we stand ready to implement rapid testing processed around our organised 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.”

It said business needs to be stablised to avoid further economic hardships as government support programmes were being scaled back.

“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,” the statement said.

Main picture: Stuart Bailey is show the anti-Covid measures at HKCEC by the venue’s deputy managing director Thomas Tong

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