With over 70,000 people now confirmed to be infected by coronavirus (mostly in China) and 1,770 deaths recorded on the mainland, Beijing has tightened further its restrictions on movement in an attempt to contain the spread of the virus.
Japan has announced the cancellation of a public gathering to celebrate the birthday of new Emperor Naruhito due to concerns over the spread of the virus.
Organisers of the Tokyo marathon have also cancelled the amateur part of the race (affecting some 38,000 runners), after cases of the virus were confirmed in Tokyo.
Singapore has announced ramped up its efforts to contain the outbreak and said an economic recession was possible.
With the business events industry directly feeling the effects of the outbreak, industry association PCMA says we should not be taking a ‘wait-and-see’ approach in what it describes as a “global crisis”.
“There is simply too much at stake for our industry and for all those for whom business events and our overlapping industry sectors support their economic and social well-being. We must take a proactive role,” a PCMA statement read on 16 February.
PCMA President & CEO Sherrif Karamat (pictured) said that, “Informed by our PCMA community’s frontline experience with managing the business events industry’s response to health crises in Toronto (SARS) and Mexico (H1N1), we have begun to activate a plan in consultation with our partners.
“Our plan is anchored in the belief that business events must play a role in contributing to the solution — not the spread — of this crisis. That means business events, first and foremost, must step up efforts to keep their participants and their host communities safe from the spread of COVID-19 during this outbreak in order to do our part to aid the global recovery.”
Karamat also noted the situation remained “very fluid” but said the PCMA remained resolute in its commitment to leading the global business events community, in collaboration with partners, through this crisis and forward into recovery.
In terms of concrete steps, Karamat said the PCMA was providing relevant information and resources to help industry professionals inform their response to the impact of the crisis. “This starts,” he said, “with our constantly updated resource webpage — What Business Event Professionals Need to Know About the COVID-19 Coronavirus — on COVID-19’s impact on business events and how business events professionals are responding. You will find helpful information on measures to prevent the spread of infection at events, answers to questions about contracting and insurance, and crisis management best practices, shared by some of the world’s leading business events practitioners.”
Karamat added that while the timing for post-recovery efforts was still uncertain, PCMA would be prepared and ready once global health authorities, including the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), gave the world the “all clear” signal.
“Our job will then be to help restore global confidence and assure business events stakeholders that the virus no longer presents a threat. While the full extent of the impact of the outbreak cannot be known at this time, we know from experience that a stigma about travel risks will remain, particularly related to China. That must be confronted head on.”
Karamat said PCMA has been in ongoing discussions with business events leaders in China to collaborate around the development of a plan. This will be based, in part, on learnings that came out of the SARS and H1N1 recovery plans. “We will also share crisis response research from the PCMA Foundation and engage PCMA’s global network of partners to support this effort,” he said.
“We invite anyone with an interest in supporting PCMA’s business events recovery plan to connect with us at: Sherrif.Karamat@pcma.org.”
Facebook, meanwhile, cancelled its March global marketing conference due to be held in San Francisco, organisers citing fears related to the spread of the coronavirus.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we cancelled our Global Marketing Summit due to evolving public health risks related to coronavirus,” a Facebook spokesperson said.
The event was scheduled for 9-12 March at the Moscone Center, and 4,000 people were expected to attend.
Facebook’s decision follows organisers deciding to cancel the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona.