With the threat of the Coronavirus, more people are taking pause before booking their travel to their next event. This is a unique situation, and hopefully will be over soon. However, as trade show and event professionals you may wonder what you need to think about when preparing to travel or organize your next event. If you are not the event organizer, do you even go? Recently, Amazon, Sony and Ericsson decided not to exhibit at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona because they did not want to expose their employees to the Coronavirus. Update as of 2/13/2020 this event was cancelled due to so many companies deciding not to attend because of Coronavirus fears.
The CDC states on their website that the immediate risk of this virus to the American public is believed to be low at this time (as of February 11, 2020). If that were to change then additional measures would need to be taken to keep yourself and your team safe.
Here are some things to keep in mind as you plan business travel:
- If you are concerned about the Coronavirus, visit the CDC website Coronavirus page for more information.
- Do what you can to maintain your health. Eat healthy and stay hydrated.
- Supplement with products that help fight off colds like Zinc and vitamin C. According to Johns Hopkins 70 – 80% of your immune system is in your gut. So, eating healthy and even supplementing with vitamins can be an effective strategy for fending off any illness.
- Washing your hands often is highly recommended. OSHA recommends vigorously washing with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds. A brief splash of water and drying on a towel is not going to remove the germs.
- Get a full night of sleep. Proper rest is critical for your body to properly defend yourself against the flu and colds. That can be difficult when you’re at shows and needing to be with clients from morning to night.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Use clean face tissue when touching your eyes, nose and mouth and immediately throw the tissue away.
- When possible, avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as a cough or sneezing.
- Face masks may be helpful if you need to travel in a high-risk area.
- The United States is recommending that citizens avoid all non-essential travel to China, Europe & Iran (updated 3/20/2020). Check with the CDC for updated information.
- Encourage sick employees to stay home.
- Review information for businesses provided by the CDC.
- If you have not gotten a flu shot, consider getting one now. It is still flu season after all.
- If you believe that you were in contact with someone infected with the Coronavirus contact your health care provider and tell them about any symptoms you may have.
- In your booth, regularly clean frequently touched surfaces with a disinfectant.
- Offer tissues and provide a waste bin for your staffers and attendees.
- Have hand sanitizer readily available for protecting yourself between hand washings.
- Cover your cough with your elbow or a tissue, not your hand. Clean your hands afterwards.
- If you are hosting an event, communicate to attendees any measures you are taking to keep them safe (hand sanitizers, encouraging people with any upper respiratory illness to stay home).
- Per the World Health Organization, it is smart to maintain a 6-foot distance between yourself and other people – especially anyone who is coughing, sneezing or has a fever. If you go to their site, they have a video on how to protect yourself. You may want to have your team watch it before they travel.
- Avoid consuming raw or undercooked animal products and handle these items with care if you are cooking to avoid cross-contamination.
Finally, monitor the news and have an open discussion with your team about whether re-scheduling an event or not attending is an option for you and your business. The Global Association of the Exhibition Industry came up with some recommendations you may want to review. If someone is apprehensive about traveling give them the option to have someone else travel in their place, especially if they are feeling sick.