With the big news out of China on the relaxing of the zero-COVID policies, I spoke with Michael Kruppe, General Manager of the Shanghai New International Expo Centre, the largest Western owned and run exhibition center in China, which has been closed for the last year. The venue, like many others in the country, was pressed into service as a COVID light hospital (those who tested positive but were asymptomatic or had very mild symptoms) for several months but is no longer being used as such.

He said, ““The PCR has abolished some of the rules and reduced the quarantine time frame from 14 days to 5+3 now, and it is further expected that as of January it will reduce to 0+3. (The ‘+’ means the number of days one has to stay at home for observation after arriving from outside of China for Shanghai citizens, respectively 3 days in a hotel for visitors.) Originally, we thought that we’d be allowed to open again after the Import/Export Fair was held across town in October. Or after the Party Congress. But that hasn’t been the case.”

Michael said it’s been frustrating watching Disneyland Shanghai reopen over the last year, along with seeing a 20,000-person mask-free marathon run while b2b events in the country’s financial capital have not been allowed to open. On the big news, he said, “We are planning to reopen in April, but if we can start earlier, say March, why not? Our team is prepared and ready to welcome organizers, exhibitors and visitors back.”

Still, he remains hopeful about the 2023 reopening, citing President Xi Jinping’s comments at a recent event outside China, “Nothing can replace face-to-face.”

For more updates on China, please attend the UFI Connects session on Wednesday, Dec. 21: https://www.ufi.org/news-media/ufi-connects/ with Michael, Athena Gong, Informa Markets Asia, Diane Chen, Shenyang New World Expo, Monica Lee Müller, HKCEC and Mark Cochrane, UFI.