In an update (6 March) on its website to NCA president and CEO John Downs’s statement at the State of the Industry conference in Florida expressing concerns about the coronavirus outbreak, the NCA said: “The health and safety of everyone who attends our events – exhibitors, attendees, staff, workers – remains our highest priority. We are following all safety advice and precautions as recommended by the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), as well as the World Health Organization (WHO). Based on information currently available, our plan is to proceed with the Sweets & Snacks Expo as scheduled. We look forward to seeing you in Chicago May18-21.”
At the time of writing, there had been more than 1,000 confirmed cases in US and the death toll had risen to 29.
Public health issue
Along with the Sweets & Snacks management team, the NCA said it will continue to keep everyone apprised of any new information and if the evolving public health issue changes, it will communicate directly with exhibitors and attendees.
The NCA said Sweets & Snacks Expo show management is evaluating on a case-by-case basis the participation of exhibiting companies from countries for which CDC has issued a travel guidance related to COVID-19.
“In certain instances, these international exhibitors are staffed by US-based personnel; in other instances, we are making arrangements to cancel their 2020 participation and welcome them back to Sweets & Snacks Expo in 2021. We are giving each of these unique cases careful consideration in the interest of protecting the health and safety of everyone who attends the show,” the statement said.
Sweets & Snacks Expo actions:
- We are implementing all guidance and recommended safety measures issued by CDC and WHO, as well as those issued by state and local health authorities.
- We continue to work with all show partners, including McCormick Place (the venue in Chicago), the airport authority and area hotels to ensure the safety of all show participants.
- McCormick Place is implementing enhanced cleaning and safety protocols throughout public spaces, including:
- Increased cleaning of restrooms and high-touch areas, such as handrails, info desks, door handles, furniture, etc., using the hospital-grade disinfectant Virex II 256, as recommended by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
If the event goes ahead, the NCA confirmed that there will be an increased number of hand sanitizer stations; staff training on how to recognize possible symptoms of coronavirus; and increased air intake/air change rates during event hours.
On site, medical care will be readily accessible to address immediate health concerns, it said in its statement.