The title of a previous blog on the above topic (6 August) appeared to be aimed at offering guidelines for event organisers – and other readers of CN – on managing events planned to take place in the Ebola-affected areas. It was, in fact, just a report on how Joanne Egan’s agency managed the relocation of planned events that might be affected by the outbreak. No doubt this put pressure on the agency – and well done them for achieving success. However, [the question of] ‘Meeting the Challenge of an Ebola Outbreak’ was not addressed.
While I sympathise with the need to assist clients in relocating their events to safer areas, the real challenge to organisers is how to manage delegate attendance when some of those registered may be planning to travel into the UK or other countries from Ebola-affected areas. This throws up logistical, legal, financial, health and social questions:
- What responsibility and action is being taken regarding departures by countries affected by the virus?
- Can organisers refuse registrations from potential delegates and contributors (speakers) on the grounds of being potential carriers of the virus? There are, at present, no screening facilities at airports and access points and it is only when symptoms appear that the disease manifests itself.
- What guidelines and guidance is available from – for instance – the World Health Organisation; the Foreign & Commonwealth Office; and the National Health Service and how are event organisers using the information?
- What information should be passed to UK venues hosting events that might include delegates from the affected areas?
- How are organisers being proactive and putting plans in place for those events potentially posing a risk? (Apologies for the alliteration!)
- What action can be taken if the organiser suspects that someone attending the event may be a high risk – or is simply unwell?
There are many more issues at stake here.
While I think it is wise of Joanne Egan to raise the issue, surely those planning to attend an event in or near the stricken areas, can make their own assessment and decide whether they want to risk attending? Joanne, her clients and her colleagues will very soon see whether there is a need to take further action to cancel or relocate an event. The real challenge to all of us in the UK event industry is to ensure that we have taken all possible precautions to prevent this dreadful virus spreading.
Joy Gardner has produced a factsheet on the Ebola virus and a list of useful websites for any organisers concerned. For a free copy, please email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject ’Ebola’.
Any comments? Email Paul Colston