Around the world, exhibition venues and convention centres are increasingly being used as temporary emergency facilities in the fight against COVID-19. In South Africa, the Johannesburg Expo Centre has been converted into temporary hospital while the Durban Exhibition Centre was used to receive homeless people and assist them ahead of the lockdown.

To assist venues in this situation – a situation that is likely unprecedented for many – AIPC, the International Association of Convention Centres and UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition industry, have released a free guide.

UFI President Mary Larkin explains, “Many of our colleagues around the world are having to repurpose their venues to serve key roles in dealing with the fallout from COVID-19, and many others will inevitably follow. However, the experience of conversion to emergency use – and the re-commissioning once the crisis has passed – is currently limited. This guide will help all member venues prepare for and perform in an exceptional role that they were not specifically designed for but are increasingly being asked or forced to play as temporary emergency facilities.”

“This guide will help all member venues prepare for and perform in an exceptional role that they were not specifically designed for but are increasingly being asked or forced to play as temporary emergency facilities.”

The guide is a result of collaboration between the two organisations, and includes both specific, practical guidance and a framework for centres to organise their activities in. The information sourced is based on the experiences of many centres worldwide.

AIPC President, Aloysius Arlando, says, “As a result of the professionalism, generosity and expertise of AIPC and UFI members – particularly those who are members of our Safety and Security Task Force – it incorporates some of the very latest front-line insights that have been and will continue to be gained in the midst of the crisis itself.”

Arlando adds that the reasons for converting to a temporary emergency facility vary, ranging from pandemics to natural disasters, and that the guide addresses these multiple scenarios.

“As challenging as such conversions may be, they will inevitably result in enhanced overall capabilities over the long term, and strengthen centre capabilities for the future”, adds Larkin.

Click here to access this guide, as well as the first free guide released by AIPC and UFI (COVID-19 Good Practices Guides for convention and exhibition centres).

Cover image: Federal Medical Stations (FMS) at George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston in response to the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. Original image sourced from US Government department: Public Health Image Library, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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