The Annual Meeting of the Finnish War Veterans Federation, organised by Messukeskus Helsinki in Co-Operation with The Finnish War Veterans Federation, took place in September 2020. This event welcomed 200 particpants during the course of the day, and included welcoming lunch and special programme.
What % of the attendees were international (exhibitors, visitors):
This was a purely domestic event.
What were the most important factors contributing to the re-opening events overall success?
COVID-19 prevention safety and security concept especially designed for the event, including:
- The annual two-day event was shortened to be organized in one day, with reduced number of participants. The webcast of the event was distributed live over the Internet.
- A larger meeting room than usually was booked for this meeting.
- Face masks were provided to participants
- Hand disinfection automats at entrances and in toilets, restaurants and meeting rooms
- Disposable gloves provided for the operative staff
- Extensive information about safety distances
- Safety distances and pathways at serveries clearly marked in the lunchroom
- Careful planning of the meeting room, with safety distance markings available on seats
The overall planning was based on the safety instructions published by Messukeskus Helsinki in summer 2020: https://messukeskus.com/press-release/safetyinstructions/?lang=en
What were the biggest challenges you faced, expected and unexpected, during the event?
Based on the extensive documentation of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), age is a significant risk factor for a severe case of COVID-19. The Finnish war veterans served at the front during the Winter War and the Second World War, so today they are appr. 95-100 years old senior citizens and thus clearly at a higher risk of contracting a severe coronavirus disease.
So, our expected challenge was the very high age of the participants which demanded especially accurate preparations to reduce risks. During the planning period, some of them commented: “We have gone through a Winter War, we are not afraid of anything.” During the meeting some of them ignored social distancing rules and did not care to use masks. However, most of them followed the instructions.
What key advice would you give colleague event and venue managers to help them better prepare for a reopening?
- Base your reputation on honesty and hard work when it comes to safety and security. You just cannot be too precise when you are dealing with health issues of your client.
- Create a good and confidential relationship with your client.
- Rely on the UFI guidelines for event organizers, and carefully consider the instructions of local health authorities.