China clears way to restart exhibitions and conferences

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China’s State Council announced new guidelines for Covid-19 prevention that give the go-ahead to hold conferences and exhibitions again, in indoor areas and closed entertainment places. The Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of China’s State Council published the new guidelines on its official government website, saying the move “intends to prevent imported cases and domestic resurgence, ensure rapid response to an epidemic outbreak, provide effective treatment, and ensure overall recovery of the social and economic order”.

The document highlighted prevention as the primary task and stressed the importance of face masks and hygiene. It also called for solid implementation of early detection, rapid handling, accurate control, and effective treatment measures. The document went on: “With strict prevention measures in place, shopping malls, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants should be all opened… and indoor areas and closed entertainment places, such as libraries and cinemas will be allowed to hold conferences and exhibitions if necessary”. The testing range should be further expanded, the document added, with key groups, such as close contacts of confirmed cases and people entering China should all be tested.  The qualification is likely to mean no quick return for international events but it does give a green light to its domestic MICE events. Big data should play a more important role, the circular said. It means that more impetus on AI and Analytics and organisers will need this to ensure “right people” at the events. The national ‘health code’ network should be popularised and testing results should be shared online in a timely manner. The exhibition held in Hunan last week ran for its scheduled tenure of 5 days successfully.

UFI’s Regional Manager for Asia/Pacific Mark Cochrane, who was the first to report this development , commented: “In essence, this means that MICE events will be able to go ahead as necessary all across China. The document does not spell out specific terms and conditions for this. As usual here, this means that the regions and cities will be in charge of the activities under their respective jurisdiction.”

It also called for solid implementation of early detection, rapid handling, accurate control, and effective treatment. With strict prevention measures in place, shopping malls, supermarkets, hotels and restaurants should be all opened, reservations will be used for parks and tourism scenic spots, and indoor areas and closed entertainment places, such as libraries and cinemas will be allowed to hold conferences and exhibitions if necessary. Key areas, such as nursing institutions for the aged, charity houses, prisons and mental health institutions, should adopt strict prevention measures.

Vulnerable groups, such as the aged, children, pregnant women and those recovering from childbirth, the disabled and patients with severe, chronic diseases should be offered more help in personal protection and psychological counseling. Meanwhile, epidemic prevention measures should be intensified in medical institutions, schools and residential communities. Early diagnosis and daily registration and reporting are necessary for patients and students.

The testing range should be further expanded. Key groups, such as close contacts of confirmed cases, people entering China, patients with a fever, new inpatients and those accompanying them, medical workers, port quarantine staff, prison staff and workers in nursing houses should all be tested. Qualified commercial testing institutions are encouraged to provide testing services. Big data should play a more important role, the circular said. The national “health code” network should be popularized and testing results should be shared online in a timely manner.

The circular also called for more scientific research and international cooperation. Studies on vaccines, medicine, virus mutation, and immunity strategy should be promoted. Various regions should dynamically adjust the risk level and emergency response level according to the local epidemic situation. Precise prevention and control should be carried out for any outbreak, it said.