The decision came after Belgium’s OCAM (Organe de Coordination pour l'Analyse de la Menace) crisis center raised the terror alert level in Brussels to level 4, the highest possible level, in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks last month.
Level 4 terror alert
"Following a new assessment of the OCAM performed this Friday, 20/11, in the evening, the terror alert level rose to level 4 for the Brussels Region. Level 3 [alert] continues to apply to the rest of the country," the crisis center said in a statement, warning of a "serious and imminent threat."
OCAM recommended that Brussels residents avoid crowded public places, such as train stations and airports, refrain from using public transport and do not attend concerts and other mass events.
The Nekkerhal in Mechelen is located outside the Brussels area and is not part of the area for which the current terror level exists.
Cornelien Baijens, head of events, Benelux, Easyfairs, told BeverageDaily, the safety and security of visitors and exhibitors is of the highest priority for Easyfairs. Even if the terror level decreases the organisation expects as a result of the move to Mechelen visitors and exhibitors will feel more safe.
“We did have some companies drop out, 15 in total, but that was due to a number of reasons such as other shows, own event, traveling abroad for meetings. Most of the exhibitors and visitors were pleased that we took this decision,” she said.
“The build up to the announcement started two weeks ago when we received a number of calls from concerned exhibitors. That weekend the terror alarm increased to the highest level. We had to make a decision that was the most acceptable to the community.
“A large amount of machinery had already shipped in the direction of Brussels and to make sure we did not need to ship them back we found another date close to the original one. Another reason to move to Mechelen was the fact that the venue was easy to secure.”
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Nespresso and Mondelez
Speakers that decided to move to the new venue, which has recently been renovated include Nespresso and Mondelez International and exhibitors Total Packaging, Milliken Europe and DeeDee Plastics, to name a few. All tickets for the previous show remain valid.
“It was an enormous change and we have taken a large number of safety and security measures to make sure the Nekkerhal is as safe as possible,” added Baijens.
“We had strong support from the suppliers and exhibitors and changed everything in one week. Just imagine - more than 200 exhibitors had to be informed as well as all pre-registered visitors. A new floorplan was made and all exhibitors had to have a place on the floorplan. It was a huge teamwork effort which involved some night work.
“Easyfairs would like to thank Brussels Expo and the Nekkerhal in Mechelen for their flexibility in these extraordinary circumstances.”