Industry Associations Release Health and Safety Playbooks for Reopening B2B Events

June 10, 2020

With major cities starting to reopen and some face-to-face events preparing to get back to business, we’re all seeking guidance on how to slowly and safely resume business as usual. Three leading event industry organizations have released complementary health and safety guidelines to assist show organizers, general service contractors and venue operators in safely planning and producing exhibitions during and following a global health crisis. Take note of these resources:


On June 5, IAEE released “Essential Considerations for Safely Reopening Exhibitions and Events, Version One.” 

“Although we are eager to get back to our usual face-to-face business environment, safety must be the top priority, and we must look to the science and medical communities for the best ways to go about producing our shows,” said David DuBois, IAEE president and CEO. 

The association’s Health and Safety Task Force teamed up with the Global Biorisk Advisory Council to ensure the document conveys the most accurate information available as the current pandemic progresses. 

This new publication covers:

  • General principles for health and safety operations
  • Communication, education and awareness
  • Exhibition and event operations
  • Convention center/venue cleaning prevention measures
  • Legal considerations

The document will be updated as experts learn more about COVID-19, according to IAEE officials.


Also on June 5, ESCA released “Health & Safety Guidance for the Exhibitions Industry,” a whitepaper created by the association’s health and safety committee for service contractors and partners who install and dismantle events.   

“ESCA’s Health and Safety Guidance for the Exhibitions Industry embodies our strong support for unity among all segments and is ever mindful of the potential health hazards that we encounter in our industry,” said Larry Arnaudet, ESCA executive director.

It covers safety around the following:

  • Overall guidelines for health and safety physical distancing
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Health monitoring and hygiene
  • Trade show layout
  • Cleaning and disinfecting warehousing/marshaling/freight handling
  • Floor coverings
  • Staff and labor
  • Equipment
  • Exhibitor move-in/move-out
  • Exhibitor order processing
  • Communication and education

According to Neil McMullin, president of ESCA, a key priority of the whitepaper is to create meaningful and consistent guidelines that can be used uniformly across the industry. 

“We are well prepared to produce and host events where the safety and health of all involved is our top priority, [and] we have taken into account each action and phase of the event production process,” McMullin said. “Our health and safety committee, representing a wide range of our membership, has embraced the kind of collaboration and cooperation needed right now to show real leadership as we move toward recovery.”


On May 26, UFI, the International Association of Convention Centres and the International Congress and Convention Association released “Good Practice Guide: Addressing COVID-19 Requirements for Re-Opening Business Events” to help global trade show industry professionals create conditions and safeguards to enable the safe re-opening of their events.

A collaborative effort between the three “G3” associations, this third in a series of COVID-19-related guides details globally emerging standards, protocols and good practices while observing relevant government and health authority expectations. The two previous Good Practices Guides: “Convention and Exhibition Centre Health & Safety: Managing COVID-19 Challenges” and “Convention and Exhibition Centres as Temporary Emergency Facilities” were released in March and April, respectively.

“It is our challenge to convince local governments, associations and event attendees that our venues can be highly-controlled and safe environments,” said James Rees, president of ICCA. “By sharing information and best practices between our global industry association partners, we hope we will be contributing to a more integrated approach, so that the international meetings industry can play its crucial role in economic and social recovery sooner rather than later.” 

With global exhibitions facing different health circumstances throughout the world, the guide also provides a framework and resources to help venues create their own guidelines.

“Sharing information and best practices on how to reopen the doors to events, from venues to organizers, is key in ensuring the strong future of the industry,” said Mary Larkin, president of UFI. “Pre-competitive collaboration is the only way we, as an industry, can host events that are safe for our customers, vendors and employees, and deliver the top marketing tool that will be critical in the post-pandemic economic recovery.“


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