This is a global first. Congratulate ourselves!

We have adjusted greatly to the healthcare restrictions and, our infection rates have flattened.
Now, keep up the good work and celebrate this marathon for health and life. Remember though…social distanced, wearing a mask and handwashing. For a while, for sure.

This is the first time the world is living through similar times as the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic,
the Great Depression of the 1930’s, the 1968 King assassination riots /social unrest and, the 1972 Watergate scandal of government corruption. All at the same time! And, globally!

Canadian numbers actually are under control, including Ontario, which as of this writing, is prepping plans for Stage 3 of Ontario’s reopening. But we have a distance to go before a vaccine is found, manufactured, distributed, and administered to the world’s population. A daunting feat which the majority of us will live through if we continue to adhere to the health authorities’ directions.

And there are many positives with the population eating better, travelling less, and reducing pollution while having more family time. But yes, a challenge for parents, home-schooling their children while trying to work remotely when able.

The population also is spending less money without dining out, entertainment and, minimally travelling. Sadly, though the entertainment, restaurant and many businesses are being devastated. But, airlines are flying again. Hotels and restaurants are opening, albeit with reduced capacity, with strict distancing, mask-wearing and, hand sanitizing protocols in place.

Next week, the Together Again Expo trade show will take place in Orlando, Florida, which is presently a pandemic hotspot. This will be a true “virtual trade show”, which will allow “virtual attendance” from your computer. Truly, this will be an unprecedented test and opportunity to get the exhibit industry back on its feet. And it will actually merge mediums of actual and virtual. In some cases, “virtual booths” consist of little more than a page on a website.

If the Together Again Expo works well, it might be the platform for shows to begin again during the pandemic within new safe hygiene and behaviour structures in place. Hygiene will be of utmost importance, with booth traffic having to be heavily regulated. Hybrid events will be the future with virtual supporting actual and, visa versa.

Of special note is that trade shows are much safer than indoor concerts, museums or even political rallies. Trade show attendees usually are required to wear a badge identification, which has been verified by show personnel at registration. And trade shows have rules to attend, such as no soliciting on the show floor, no meetings in the aisles, etc.

Trade show exhibitors and attendees meet for the purpose of generating business where they have invested time and money to get together. Therefore, it is to their advantage that the show be safe and successful in order to create business again.

The Together Again Expo will be a test case showing that security and hygiene will be up to the highest standards. Only by doing so will exhibiting and attending trade shows give the population confidence to return again. The event suppliers and organizers will have a key part to play in order to earn the confidence of all concerned. All labour, food, and security services will have to assure everyone of safety according to the health authorities’ requirements. From the loading docks to the exhibit installers, exhibitors and, all service contractors will have to have health protocols in place. All stages of exhibiting will have to prove, beyond a doubt, that shows can be safe from “load in to load out.”
If done well, all exhibitors and attendees should be followed for a predetermined time to confirm that no infections took place as a result of attending the show. All labourers and outside vendors should be traced too. Yes, a lot of work with big gains if we can resume events again and help to restore the economy.

Planners will have to assess how their activities can be performed in a safe and hygienic manner. For example, scanning of badges can be made mandatory versus exchanging business cards.
Will “giveaways” be allowed? Business cards? How will food services and washrooms adjust with social distancing in place? A post-show debrief will have a “must-do list” with action plans for future show planning. All service contractors and exhibitors should plan a post-show debrief with improvements for future shows, as well.

Security, too, has to be planned to include how to handle people that resist mask-wearing or overcrowding of booths, washrooms or, eating areas. These Covid-19 protocols are in addition to the existing security protocols for large events. And this planning, for the safe return of trade shows, has to take place worldwide.
It can be envisioned that organizers, shows, and venues will now be rated not only for attendance and tourism location but also for health and hygiene standards.

Throughout this test of the world, we are experiencing how the majority of our global citizens are good people wanting to help others. The earth’s successful future will only result if we all work together for our collective benefit globally.

Thankfully, we have seen panic buying reduced or eliminated. The implementation of Canadian grocery hours has helped the elderly, healthcare workers, and other vulnerable people to shop during earlier dedicated hours. The pandemic has shown the finest examples of humanity being visible and tolerant.

Remember the future is now, and we can succeed in attaining the impossible of finding a cure and returning to life similar to pre-COVID-19. And possibly better, with more flexibility and appreciation of what we have.

“It always seems impossible until it is done.” Nelson Mandela 2001

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