Regulations published by the Department of Tourism have outlined what protocols need to be observed for conference and meeting venues.

While conferences have largely shifted online in the wake of lockdown and the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t help but feel as if many attempts to move online were just a video call with a potato for a microphone.

With that in mind we’re sure conference venues and event organisers are keen to start operating again, but we have to ask the question – will they?

Just yesterday we reported that the Geneva Motor Show won’t be hosting a show until 2022.

“A majority of GIMS exhibitors who took part in a survey, stated that they would probably not participate in a 2021 edition in and that they would prefer to have a GIMS in 2022,” the Geneva Motor Show organisers said.

A number of local conferences shifted online shortly after the state of disaster was declared which – and we’re sure you’ll agree – was the right move.

However, while conferences can now take place folks may not be willing to put themselves in harms way.

The regulations promulgated by Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane state that delegates and employees at conferences must be screened. Delegates however will only need to complete a questionnaire in this respect.

Should a delegate be suspected of having COVID-19 things get strange.

“After screening, where necessary, isolate a person in a facility within the premises designated for isolation,” the regulations state.

So rather than simply sending the person home or denying them entry, the person needs to be isolated on the premises. This is just bizarre and it also applies to casinos and hotels.

Of course, delegates will have to wear masks at all times except while eating or drinking.

Delegates will also have to have their seats reserved and they will not be allowed to change seats during the conference.

Some aspects of the regulations will surely be easier for conferences to comply with. For instance, a record of full names, ID and passport numbers, contact numbers and addresses must be kept during the state of disaster and for six weeks after it ends.

Many of these details are collected during registration for an event so conference organisers may have an easier time getting that information than restaurants may.

But we have to circle back to the question of whether people will want to surround themselves with 49 others and run the risk of contracting COVID-19.

South Africa’s COVID-19 numbers as of 30th June are truly cause for concern. In just 24 hours 6 945 new cases were discovered bringing the total number of positive cases identified to 151 209.

We’d say then that given this data, hosting a conference should be way at the bottom on our collective list of priorities.

Of course we now wait to see who will fire first on conferences in South Africa during lockdown. Whoever that may be, please make sure you include an online aspect of the conference as well.

[Image – CC 20 Pixabay]