ATLANTA – As the public health situation ebbs and flows in the United States, Medtrade East has followed suit, requiring masks for the Oct. 18-20 show at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta. “Recent industry shows have required masks,” says York Schwab, associate show director, Medtrade East. “At this point, it’s the right decision for the health and safety of our exhibitors and attendees.”
Last year’s Medtrade East was virtual, but Schwab is confident that this year’s show remains an excellent in-person chance to get back to business, forge new relationships, and celebrate old ones. Medtrade Monday sat down with Schwab to learn more about the safety protocols and his rationale for requiring masks at the show.
Medtrade Monday: During the July 2021 Medtrade West in Phoenix, masks were not required. Why did you decide to change that policy for Medtrade East?
Schwab: July was indeed a different time with different guidelines. In fact, the overall mood of the country was opening up in large part thanks to vaccinations. In the wake of stalled vaccinations rates, the Delta variant, and breakthrough infections, we felt it prudent to require masks. The City of Atlanta is under a mask mandate as well, so this policy falls in line with what we are seeing throughout the city. Airlines and airports are still requiring masks as well, so it’s still a fact of life in many parts of society.
Medtrade Monday: What do you say to people who are hesitant to attend for health reasons?
Schwab: Well, we certainly hope the mask requirement will ease their minds. Again, this is not a requirement for only the un-vaccinated. We will all be on equal ground here with masks on during the show. As for overall safety, a trade show is actually a pretty darn safe place to be.
The Freeman event services company reports that in-person business events have an average vaccination rate of 80%. A recent Retail B2B event in New York had a mask requirement, and Freeman reported that the infection rate was .028%, which amounts to a two-in-7,000 chance of an infection. It’s pretty remarkable. Walking the floor at Medtrade East will be safer than shopping in a grocery store.
Medtrade Monday: What health and safety advice do you have for attendees and exhibitors?
Schwab: While I’m obviously not a physician, Emerald is asking everyone to complete a self-assessment. Are you symptom-free? If you feel sick, please stay home. You can refer to the CDC’s COVID-19 Self-Checker reference guide for any questions on symptoms by clicking here.
Medtrade Monday: Will mask requirements be in place for networking events?
Schwab: In line with CDC guidelines, everyone is required to wear a mask, regardless of vaccination status while at the show and at all show functions (this includes the show floor, conference, and registration area). Masks will be provided at the event if needed. We have an open line of communication in place with the facility, hotel partners, and local health officials in case guidelines change. Before the doors open, we will conduct inspections to ensure the venue is safe, clean and ready for business.
Social distancing requirements will be in place to comply with venue/facility guidelines. Some of the basics are all familiar to us by this time, and we ask that everyone please follow all recommended health and safety measures, including washing your hands often, covering your cough or sneeze, and staying home if you are sick.
Medtrade Monday: How do you plan to enforce these measures?
Schwab: We are all in this together, and I anticipate that we will all respect the rules. With that said, we have increased staff and security to provide the best customer service and information accessibility. Exhibitors will have access to enhanced cleaning and disinfection services for their booths. Daily disinfecting will take place to sanitize all seating, restrooms, and frequently touched public areas.
Medtrade Monday: What if you happen to feel sick during the show?
Schwab: If you’re feeling sick unexpectedly at the show, medical personnel will be onsite to assist anyone feeling unwell. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, our focus at Emerald has been on the health and safety of our customers, our staff, and our communities. In preparing for reopening our events, we have developed a preparedness, prevention, and a response plan designed to welcome you back. This plan is a comprehensive, multi-layered approach that is fluid and will continue to evolve based on guidance issued by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and federal, state, and local governments. Emerald’s preparedness, prevention, and response plan is our commitment to providing assurance and confidence that our events have your health and safety as our number one priority.