News story

MODEX goes ahead despite virus fears

Wednesday, 11 March 2020 ( #965 ) - Atlanta, GA, United States
Business as usual at the EnerSys booth at MODEX
Business as usual at the EnerSys booth at MODEX
US materials handling and logistics show MODEX wraps up today after opening on Monday.

There was plenty of uncertainty in the industry ahead of the opening, especially because of the cancellation of rival European show LogiMAT which was also due to run this week.

Final attendance figures for MODEX won't be available for a while, but organisers were braced for no-shows, especially after the withdrawal of high-profile exhibitors like the KION Group, UniCarriers and Rocla AGV Solutions.

However, cancellations of attendees were expected to have a limited impact on the show, with show officials noting that visitors from outside North America represented around 12% of overall registrations prior to the event.

"We understand concerns about COVID-19/Coronavirus continue to be top of mind and that this situation is creating additional stress on MODEX attendees as they prepare for the show," organisers said ahead of the show. "The safety and security of all our visitors is our paramount consideration," MHI stressed.

In a concession to Coronavirus concerns, MHI is making all the presentations for the event available as podcasts.

There were plenty of new products and announcements from the 900-plus exhibitors, and we will report some of those in the next edition.

Meanwhile, many in the industry were surprised that the event went ahead in the wake of a spate of cancellations throughout the United States.

Music and digital media conference South by Southwest, also scheduled for this week, was cancelled by order of the city of Austin, Texas. Many of the major sponsors and exhibitors had already announced they were not attending the event which attracted more than 400,000 people last year.

HIMSS, a large healthcare IT conference which should have run from March 9-13, was also cancelled after its major sponsors pulled the pin last week.

US meetings leaders have called on events organisers to continue to stage conferences and exhibitions - where this can be done safely.

"As numerous organisations determine plans related to conducting meetings, conferences, conventions and trade shows - where people gather in sizeable groups to conduct business - we strongly encourage decisions to be based in facts rather than fear, given the enormity of the impact to the workforce that supports the events industry," says a joint statement from leaders of events industry associations and groups.

The writers stress that there is no official guidance that travel plans in the US should be curtailed or cancelled.

"We are firmly committed to heeding the expert guidance of public health authorities and prepared to shift as the situation dictates, but absent any official notification that travel should be limited in any way, we encourage the unimpeded continuation of travel in the US. Many organisations (our own included) are continuing to organise and hold meetings and events around the United States, and we applaud and support the decision to safely do so, not only for the continuity of business, but for the millions of American workers that travel supports every day," the statement continues.

The letter warns that the decision to cancel meetings and events creates significant impact on the American economy and to the workers whose jobs and livelihoods are affected by reductions in these events.
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