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SA industry set to reunite with Restart Expo

Restart Expo, which takes place in Johannesburg, South Africa 25-26 November, will demonstrate that South Africa can host exhibitions and events, with all required Covid health and safety protocols in place. an event that will showcase how exhibitions and events can be hosted safely with all the required COVID-19 health and safety protocols in place.

The Restart Expo is taking place at the Johannesburg Expo Centre in Nasrec, Johannesburg, from 25-26 November. In addition to the exhibitor stands, there will be a seminar theatre, a meeting area and a business lounge on the exhibition floor. The Restart Expo has the endorsement of the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO), the SA Events Council and its members, UFI – the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry and exhibition industry suppliers.

The Restart Expo is a non-commercial event where every contractor is participating without any revenue being generated. About 30 exhibitors will take part representing the industry and industry suppliers.

“The industry feels that it has been neglected; by showcasing what is possible and enabling a better understanding of what we do and how our industry operates, will also bring an acknowledgment of what the industry’s value is to stakeholders,” says managing director of organiser, Specialised Exhibitions, a division of the Montgomery Group.

Minister of Tourism, the Honourable Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane (pictured), is also expected to attend the event,  the objective of which, according to Corin, “is to create confidence that an event of this nature can safely take place and that the protocols can be applied to and rolled out across exhibitions, conferences and events. We encourage all levels of government to attend as well as suppliers involved in exhibitions and events, past exhibitors and attendees, associations and media.”

“With online registration, wearing a face covering, hand sanitiser stations, social distancing and temperature checks at a designated entrance in place, going to an exhibition and event will be as safe as any place you go, such as grocery shopping. In fact, you could feel safer; such will be the very strict adherence to all protocols required. “The industry is so well regulated, even before the global pandemic, and the organisers and venues involved are more than capable of putting together a public event that falls within the World Health Organisation and local government Covid-19 regulations.”

“An event like Restart Expo is key in showing the authorities how we can run events safely as we overcome the Covid pandemic,” one of the international speakers, UFI’s MD and CEO Kai Hattendorf said in a pre-event message of greetings to participants.

Projeni Pather, chairperson of the Association of African Exhibition Organisers (AAXO), feels that exhibitions and events have been overlooked. “We have been bundled into the same category as mass gatherings; the Restart Expo is a strategic effort to unbundle this myth and show government officials that exhibitions and events are organised gatherings. The Events Safety Guidelines, formulated at the beginning of lockdown, considered the health and safety protocols from the Department of Health, the World Health Organisation, and many international event organisations. Besides the new Guidelines, our industry is very regulated and safety is a prerequisite to any event plan. The Restart Expo allows stakeholders to see how the safety protocols unfold at the live exhibition.

“All industry stakeholders should attend the Restart Expo; of primary importance is all government officials, provincial municipalities, safety and security teams, and event organisers. Unfortunately, the current limit of 250 pax indoors limits our interaction; this capacity limit is not financially viable for exhibition organisers. The capacity limit on business events should then be lifted to at least 50% of venue capacity.

“AAXO is delighted to work alongside our members, Specialised Exhibitions, and the Johannesburg Expo Centre to deliver the Restart Expo. AAXO is proudly affiliated with the SA Events Council, which collaborates with 14 event associations; the SA Events Council is 100% in support of this initiative. As an industry, it is essential to collaborate, communicate, and work as a cohesive unit, to safely reopen the exhibition and event industry.”