ISE Confirms Some Chinese Exhibitors Will Be No-Shows, Amidst Coronavirus Outbreak

Integrated Systems Europe has confirmed in a statement that the numbers of China-based tech companies showing at the pro AV trade show next week has been thinned out by airline travel restrictions.

“Because many airlines have cancelled flights to and from China, we know that some Chinese companies may not be able to attend ISE 2020,” says Mike Blackman, Managing Director of Integrated Systems Events, the company that runs ISE. “We are liaising with our Chinese exhibitors and offering what assistance we can.”

Dutch carrier KLM, which was probably the way over for many, has suspended or reduced flights to China, and many of the major airlines that would bring people from Beijing, Shanghai or elsewhere in China have just flat stopped flying in and out, for now, or will this week. 

That doesn’t mean no China-based companies will have stands, but what’s up around the RAI  may be largely populated by staff based in other regions.

The main concern has been about unwitting Chinese nationals bringing the virus with them to the show, which packs as many as 80,000 people into some fairly tight confines. 

There has been some AV industry noise that perhaps Chinese exhibitors should be asked to stay home. While that has not happened, it is looking like travel restrictions and some airlines will stop a lot of ISE plans in their tracks.

The Shenzhen-based LED company ROE, which focuses mainly on temporary displays for touring and temporary acts and events, told AV Interactive it will have a stand populated by staff who work outside of China.

“There is no doubt that both the RAI and the ISE trade show organisation are taking all the necessary precautions to ensure that the trade show visit is safe for visitors, but part of that safety is in our own hands and we felt that we as a company should show our common responsibility and contribute in our own way,” said Jason Lu, general manager of ROE Visual. “That is why we have decided to cancel the visit to ISE for all our Chinese-based staff. This was not an easy decision, but it’s made out of respect and care to all our visitors, clients and overseas colleagues. We send our best wishes to everybody. Be safe and healthy.”

ROE Visual said it has a broad international team of product and sales specialists, so the effect of this decision can be kept to a minimum for customers. Chinese colleagues will be replaced with US and EU-based ROE Visual staff as well as can be done.

ROE is 100% owned by Chinese LED giant Unilumin, so perhaps its approach might be replicated by the parent company, which has a lot of sales and marketing people based in North America and elsewhere.

Blackman in a formal statement from the show today suggested exhibitors and attendees who do make it to Amsterdam – China is the only country with travel bans (I think) – all  observe some straightforward measures.

“Although all Chinese airports are already exercising exit controls with health tests we ask all of you, whichever country you will be attending from, to work with us and exercise some common healthy practices.”

“If you do not feel well or believe you may have any relevant symptoms (or in fact any health threatening symptoms, whatever they may be) that you feel might put your fellow exhibitors and attendees at risk please seek medical advice and refrain from travelling.”

Additional hand sanitizing facilities will be put in place in multiple locations across the RAI.

I have also read suggestions from veteran ISE-goers that the RAI turn on or up its boilers so the tap water in restrooms is hot or at least warm (they were suggesting it is often cold … I can’t remember that detail, personally).

I am bringing travel-sized hand sanitizers, and will have my hands in pockets as much as possible, and make more use of gloves than I need to. I even have a couple of N99 masks at the ready, if that seems appropriate or necessary (doubt it). Having commuted into Toronto during the 2003 SARS outbreak, I have experience opening doors with everything but my hands.

There are no confirmed cases of the virus in the Netherlands, to date, and just a couple of dozen confirmed cases across Europe. There are four in Canada and 11 in the U.S.

But, there are 17,000+ confirmed cases in China.

The worry, of course, is that zero count in BeNeLux could change after next week, if people from China or elsewhere travel to Amsterdam, feeling fine, but then develop symptoms as they circulate around the RAI and local subways and trams. You can have few to no symptoms, and be contagious.

Anyone demo’ing touch screens at the RAI will want to have a jumbo Purell dispenser next to their products.