The exhibitions and events industry has united in support of the Restart Expo, an event that will showcase how exhibitions and events can be hosted safely with all the required COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place.
The Restart Expo is taking place at the Johannesburg Expo Centre in Nasrec, Johannesburg, from 25-26 November. In addition to the exhibitor stands, there will be a seminar theatre, a meeting area and a business lounge on the exhibition floor. The Restart Expo has the endorsement of the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO), the SA Events Council and its members, UFI - the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and exhibition industry suppliers.
“We are delighted to confirm that the Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, has accepted an invitation to attend the Expo,” says Gary Corin, Managing Director of Specialised Exhibitions, a division of the Montgomery Group. ““The objective of the Restart Expo is to create confidence that an event of this nature can safely take place and that the protocols can be applied to and rolled out across exhibitions, conferences and events. We encourage all levels of government to attend as well as suppliers involved in exhibitions and events, past exhibitors and attendees, associations and media.”
“With online registration, wearing a face covering, hand sanitiser stations, social distancing and temperature checks at a designated entrance in place, going to an exhibition and event will be as safe as any place you go, such as grocery shopping. In fact, you could feel safer; such will be the very strict adherence to all protocols required. The industry is so well regulated, even before the global pandemic, and the organisers and venues involved are more than capable of putting together a public event that falls within the World Health Organisation and local government COVID-19 regulations.”
The Restart Expo is a non-commercial event where every contractor is participating without any revenue being generated. About thirty exhibitors will take part representing the industry and industry suppliers.
“The industry feels that it has been neglected; by showcasing what is possible and enabling a better understanding of what we do and how our industry operates, will also bring an acknowledgment of what the industry’s value is to stakeholders,” says Corin.
Projeni Pather, Chairperson of AAXO, also feels that exhibitions and events have, unfortunately, been overlooked. “We have been bundled into the same category as mass gatherings; the Restart Expo is a strategic effort to unbundle this myth and show government officials that exhibitions and events are organised gatherings. The Events Safety Guidelines, formulated at the beginning of lockdown, has considered the health and safety protocols from the Department of Health, the World Health Organisation, and many international event organisations. Besides the new Guidelines, our industry is very regulated and safety is a prerequisite to any event plan. The Restart Expo allows stakeholders to see how the safety protocols unfold at the live exhibition.”
“All industry stakeholders should attend the Restart Expo; of primary importance is all government officials, provincial municipalities, safety and security teams, and event organisers. Unfortunately, the current limit of 250 pax indoors limits our interaction; this capacity limit is not financially viable for exhibition organisers. We firmly believe the Restart Expo can demonstrate to the government the distinction between mass gatherings and business events; the capacity limit on business events should then be lifted to at least 50% of venue capacity,” says Pather.
“AAXO is delighted to work alongside our members, Specialised Exhibitions, and the Johannesburg Expo Centre to deliver the Restart Expo. AAXO is proudly affiliated with the SA Events Council, which collaborates with 14 event associations; the SA Events Council is 100% in support of this initiative. As an industry, it is essential to collaborate, communicate, and work as a cohesive unit, to safely reopen the exhibition and event industry.”
The Restart Expo is an initiative created by Specialised Exhibitions and Johannesburg Expo Centre. With its separate entrance and parking, it is positioned a far distance away from two halls which are currently available as a Covid-19 field hospital.