Indoor trade shows and exhibiting events are allowed again in Alberta.
The announcement was made July 16, at a press conference. The province’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, said after studying other jurisdictions that have reopened such activities, it was found events don’t seem to be large spreaders of the coronavirus.
The government has developed guidelines to support event organizers in reducing the risk of transmission of COVID-19 among workers, volunteers, patrons and the general public.
Organizers are encouraged to notify attendees before events through e-mail, social media and other channels of steps that can be taken to stay healthy and prevent virus spread. During events, wall and floor signage should be posted in highly visible areas and verbal announcements made about safety measures and protocols, including maintaining physical distancing of two metres.
Options to further promote physical distancing include directional traffic flow, designated entries and exits, and staggered entry times.
On the trade show and exhibiting floor, booths and stalls should be arranged to ensure people can maintain two metres distance. Vendors should discourage attendees from handling products and self-testing items. If attendees must touch a product to assess suitability for purchase, for example, the item should be washed and sanitized between users, or attendees should wash or sanitize their hands before and after touching. Electronics and interactive displays that cannot be cleaned and sanitized between users should be operated exclusively by the vendor. Vendors should also be encouraged to clean and disinfect booths regularly.
For demonstrations, presentations and lectures/seminars, assigned seating is encouraged to minimize multiple persons using the same chairs and place settings. Restrictions for seated/audience settings should also be followed. For example, 100 individuals at a seated indoor lecture and 50 for informal demonstrations where people are gathered.
Facilities and venues also have a responsibility in reducing the risk of virus transmission. Hand sanitizer containing at least 60 per cent alcohol should be provided at all entrances, exits, elevators, escalators and other areas with commonly touched surfaces. Washroom sanitation and supervision should be enhanced, and capacity limits implemented to allow for distancing between guests. This may involve closing alternate sinks or urinals. There should be increased cleaning and disinfection of high-touch surfaces, such as elevator buttons, railings, door handles, public seating, payment devices, microphones and podiums. Loading schedules during setup and cleanup should be staggered to enable distancing at loading docks and entryways. Emergency response plans may need to be modified to accommodate physical distancing.
Attendees and vendors should also be screened prior to entry. Measures include asking if they are experiencing any symptoms (fever, sore throat, cough, runny nose or difficulty breathing). A rapid response plan should be in place that sets out steps for event staff to take when an attendee shows symptoms or tests positive for COVID-19. The attendee or vendor should be immediately masked and isolated from others, and any surfaces they may have come in contact with cleaned and disinfected.
The easing of the government restriction on trade shows and exhibits comes at a time when the province is reporting more than 100 new cases of the virus for the first time since early May.