Industry Leaders Reaction On Unlock 5.0 Announcement

In a much awaited development, the Government of India has issued new guidelines under the Unlock 5.0, providing a huge sigh of relief for the exhibition industry. As per the guidelines, the Business to Business (B2B) exhibitions will be permitted to resume with effect from 15th October 2020, provided they are hosted outside the COVID containment zones. For this, the SOPs will be issued by the Department of Commerce. While the industry awaits the SOP document with much anticipation, it will be interesting to see what protocols will be made mandatory for organising the exhibitions and in what spirit the organisers, venues and service providers receive them!

Positives for Events and Conferences sector too!

Although the social/academic/sports/entertainment/cultural/religious/political functions and other congregations had already been permitted with a ceiling of 100 persons (outside containment zones), as per the new guidelines of Unlock 5.0, now a maximum of 50% of the hall capacity will be allowed, with a ceiling of 200 persons, in closed spaces. Wearing of face masks, maintaining social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and use of hand wash or sanitizer will be mandatory.
It is also important to note that the document states that there shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods including those for cross land-border trade under Treaties with neighbouring countries. No separate permission/ approval/ e-permit will be required for such movements. Movement by passenger trains; domestic passenger air travel; movement of persons on Vande Bharat and Air Transport Bubble flights; and sign-on and sign-off of Indian seafarers will continue to be regulated as per SOPs issued.  This is a significant development for the exhibitions/conferences/seminars/meetings sector.
The document also states that Entertainment parks and similar places will be permitted to open with effect from 15th October, 2020, for which the SOP will be issued by
Ministry of Health & Family Welfare.
It is noteworthy that a lot of industry leaders, industry bodies and associations have been working earnestly to make this happen. It was reaching to a point where the industry shoulders were beginning to drop but this announcement has brought much joy to the fraternity.
Exhibition Showcase spoke to some of the industry leaders to understand their reaction to this announcement. Excerpts;
Kai Hattendorf, CEO, UFI

UFI welcomes the decision by the Government of India to allow the exhibitions sector to re-open, and we want to thank all our industry colleagues on their relentless lobbying effort to make this happen. India now joins the growing list of countries where we as an industry can build and operate the much needed market places and meeting places for all the industries and sectors to recover from this pandemic as quickly as possible. Business events are not another ‘problem’ governments have to deal with now – they are a key part of the solution. As an industry, we know how to organise and run business events safely. With global standards and a growing number of successful shows taking place in Asia and around the world, we are showcasing that every day again.

Rajesh Agrawal, ED, ITPO & Chairman, India MICE Alliance

The decision of the Government to  allow B2B exhibitions in the country from 15th October onwards outside the containment zones is an extremely welcome step. It shows the government’s confidence and commitment towards support to the exhibition sector which plays an important role in promoting businesses and trade across the country. Now it’s time for the exhibition industry to come forward and work collectively towards holding of trade shows with strict adherence to SOP and requisite COVID precautions in place. We will need to make small beginnings and graduate to pre-COVID levels in next 6-9 months. #WeSupportExhibitions

Balasubramanian S Pillai, ED & COO, IMTMA & BIEC, President, IEIA

Indian Exhibition industry extends its thanks to the Ministry of Home Affairs for its decision to open B2B exhibitions from October 15 as it bodes well for the country’s economic growth. This will benefit the various SMEs and MSMEs that were affected by the COVID pandemic as well as people at the bottom of the pyramid, the most vulnerable sector of the society. The announcement was the need of the hour and will go a long way in providing support during this unprecedented situation. The industry now awaits the SOP from Department of Commerce and continue to play a crucial role in furthering “Atmanirbhar Bharat”.

RAKESH KUMAR, DG, EPCH , Chairman, IEML & Chairman, Advocacy Committee, IEIA

It’s a panacea for industry in today’s situation. Our industry has been very resilient. We will come over from our past and back to our business as usual by end of October. IEML is ready with all SOPs and compliance protocols and ready to welcome the industry.

Yogesh Mudras, Managing Director, Informa Markets in India

The Government’s nod to physical trade expos is cause for joyous celebrations for the industry. It is symbolic of the faith the Government reposes in trade expos as catalysts to rebuilding the economy, and to uphold safety protocols and security of multitudes of people. It is also the glorious result of the unceasing efforts & advocacy of the exhibitions industry which had stood together to petition to the government to allow it to start functioning without further delay. It brings back renewed hopes among millions of industrious people associated with trade expos, who had suffered greatly due to COVID-19 related restrictions. Honestly, we can’t wait to get started and will spare no efforts to justify the faith entrusted upon us!

Ravinder Sethi, CMD, RE Rogers India

This news was “very very” eagerly awaited. Credit to our entire fraternity in making this happen. It has been a thorough teamwork.  It’s, however, also critical to maintain extreme caution – SOPs have to be strictly adhered to. Last thing we want is getting back to square one due to negligence and laxity.

Sunil More, President, IESA

On behalf of IESA and on behalf of the event industry fraternity, I thank Government for issuing order opening up the B2B business exhibitions in October 2020. We sincerely hope that this move will help rolling the wheels of the event industry. 

Girish Kwatra, Hony. Secretary, ICPB

I think it’s a great news and the best thing that we can have in difficult times. In my opinion, business events are the best mode to reignite the economy. Now, shift in the economy can be seen in all the fields once business events start to take place. Similarly, conferences are also going to start in October as per the fresh guidelines of MHA. We have high hopes that congregations restricted to size of 200 people currently in Unlock 5 will definitely rise to 500-700 people in days to come. But, what is most important for organisers, venues and participants is that they should ensure the safety protocols to be followed strictly.

Sanjoy Roy, Co-Chair: Art & Culture Chapter, FICCI

We welcome the government’s decision to open entertainment and exhibition centers. We must ensure strict COVID protocol in this phase and keep the visitors and those engaged in the industry safe.