What Business Events Professionals Need to Know About the Novel Coronavirus

We created this page to help you find reliable information about the outbreak and to share business events industry-related resources to ensure you are prepared. To begin with … Monitor local, national and international public health departments agencies. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control are communicating with local health departments, which can provide advice about any protocols you should follow should one of your business event participants become sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath. Above all, be calm and communicate responsibly. “Experience has taught us that global coordination and cooperation, with collaboration between the public and private sector, is going to be vital in containing the spread of the coronavirus throughout China and beyond,” Gloria Guevara, the president and CEO of World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said in a Jan. 24 statement. “Containing the spread of unnecessary panic is as important as stopping the virus itself.” What You Need to Know A viral outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to at least four continents, including North America, Europe and Australia. More than 2,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus with all fatalities — at least 80 — in China. There are at least 50 cases in 13 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia. As of Jan. 27, the World Health Organization has not declared the situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. Useful resources: World Health Organization Twitter: @WHO Centers for Disease Control and PreventionTwitter: @CDCgov European Centre for Disease Prevention and ControlTwitter: @ECDC_EU Understanding Force Majeure and dealing with unexpected risk in existing contracts 6 Tips for Covering Catastrophes in Contracts Latest news: What the Coronavirus Means So Far for the Travel Industry (Skift) WeWork, Starbucks Shut Doors as Infections Spread: Virus Impact (Bloomberg) January 27 coronavirus news (CNN) FAQs As a business events professional, what should I be thinking about? We’ve updated some suggestions that risk management consultant Joan L. Eisenstodt offered during the 2016 Zika virus outbreak as they are still applicable today. If you’re contracted with venues and vendors in countries where there has been a warning, look first to your crisis plan to see where this fits. And, talk with your attorney — it is uncertain whether warnings from the CDC fall under force majeure and/or impossibility clauses. If you do not have a plan, consider the impact of the warnings on the meeting and to those attending. Talk with your attorney and with your insurance carrier about the long-term impact of the decisions you make. “The big

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What Business Events Professionals Need to Know About the Novel Coronavirus

We created this page to help you find reliable information about the outbreak and to share business events industry-related resources to ensure you are prepared.

To begin with …

Monitor local, national and international public health departments agencies. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control are communicating with local health departments, which can provide advice about any protocols you should follow should one of your business event participants become sick with fever, cough or shortness of breath.

Above all, be calm and communicate responsibly. “Experience has taught us that global coordination and cooperation, with collaboration between the public and private sector, is going to be vital in containing the spread of the coronavirus throughout China and beyond,” Gloria Guevara, the president and CEO of World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), said in a Jan. 24 statement. “Containing the spread of unnecessary panic is as important as stopping the virus itself.”

What You Need to Know

A viral outbreak that originated in Wuhan, China, has spread to at least four continents, including North America, Europe and Australia. More than 2,000 people have been diagnosed with the virus with all fatalities — at least 80 — in China. There are at least 50 cases in 13 countries in North America, Europe, Asia and Australia.

As of Jan. 27, the World Health Organization has not declared the situation a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

FAQs

We’ve updated some suggestions that risk management consultant Joan L. Eisenstodt offered during the 2016 Zika virus outbreak as they are still applicable today.

  • If you’re contracted with venues and vendors in countries where there has been a warning, look first to your crisis plan to see where this fits. And, talk with your attorney — it is uncertain whether warnings from the CDC fall under force majeure and/or impossibility clauses.
  • If you do not have a plan, consider the impact of the warnings on the meeting and to those attending.
  • Talk with your attorney and with your insurance carrier about the long-term impact of the decisions you make.

“The big issues are legal — canceling a meeting and contracts — versus the safety of people,” Eisenstodt said in 2016. “The real concern of attendees contracting the virus versus hurting the populations of those areas by moving a meeting based on reports.

“The questions, of course, revolve around how much hype there is around the virus versus the reality of the risk of someone in the group contracting the virus,” she added. “In risk management, we always teach that people come first and their safety comes first.”

In 2015, John S. Foster, an attorney whose firm specializes in the legal aspects of meetings and events, had suggestions that still apply today. Back then, he recommended analyzing your contracts in terms of termination and cancellation language. The typical force-majeure clause in convention-industry contracts limits termination of the contract without liability to situations where it is impossible for one or both parties to perform. See his other recommendations.

Consider preparing your force-majeure clause with examples that apply to situations where performance of the contract may be terminated without liability by either party, suggests John S. Foster, an attorney whose firm specializes in the legal aspects of meetings and events. This applies not only if performance is impossible but also if performance has been made commercially impracticable or the purpose of a party is frustrated by supervening events after the contract has been signed and the value of the contract has been substantially diminished or destroyed.

See his recommendations.

Travel is widely restricted within China, with transport in and out of Wuhan suspended, including air, train and buses. China said starting Jan. 27 that it is suspending all tour groups and the sale of flight and hotel packages for citizens headed overseas.

Some airlines are offering waivers to rebook flights that are traveling to, from and through Shanghai and Beijing.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has warned against all nonessential travel to Hubei Province, China, where Wuhan is located, and an alert to take enhanced precautions if traveling to other parts of China.

Numerous countries are conducting entry screenings of travelers from China including at London’s Heathrow Airport (LHR) and Paris’ Charles de Gaulle (CDG) and at the Atlanta (ATL), Chicago (ORD), Los Angeles (LAX), New York (JFK), and San Francisco (SFO) airports in the United States.

As a traveler, wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands; and avoid close contact with people who are sick.

As a business events professional, establish or review plans to communicate with attendees traveling to your events about any concerns.

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