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Slow and steady: a closer look at the events recovery in Seoul

Meeting organisers in Seoul are getting back to work – slowly but surely.

Seoul cautiously resumed live events, starting with exhibitions and congresses in June. One of the city’s most prominent conference centres, COEX, now has eight international exhibitions and conventions listed on its event calendar for the second half of the year, while other venues such as SETEC, aT Center, Sejong University Conference Center have also started holding events under thorough quarantine measures.

The Korea Landscape and Garden Expo 2020 held from June 3 to 6 was the first exhibition in three months since the industry ground to a halt, followed by the Seoul International Dental Exhibition and Scientific Congress 2020 (SIDEX 2020). SIDEX 2020 was the first large-scale event, which had 4,860 attendees in two days in June.

Holding the event had caused concerns over crowd sizes but with quarantine measures including regular disinfection of the venue, organisers were able to proudly announce two weeks later that no Covid-19 cases had occurred from the event or anyone in relation.

So how did they do this?

The Central Disease Control Headquarters and the Central Disaster Management Headquarters released disinfection guidelines in April, while convention centres also have their own procedures and measures in place. Plus, each organiser goes through the necessary measures themselves and announces specific measures based on the nature of their events – for example, plastic gloves were given on top of checking on other personal protection equipment (PPE) at the Seoul International Wines & Spirits Expo 2020, considering how much physical contact (eg picking up bottles) would take place on-site.

The first step of quarantine for each attendee is to be registered with a QR code. With Korea’s precise tracking system, it’s much faster to find anyone with potential exposure to the virus. Wearing a mask is mandatory to enter any public gatherings – that includes events. Other measures include body temperature measuring on entry, providing applicable PPE, disinfecting the venues and sometimes the attendees at entries, and frequent reminders and changing of the indoor air.

Even though holding large gatherings might seem risky, so many people practise personal safety measures that events are slowly coming back into the comfort zone for many people.

The 10th Korea Smart Device Trade Show 2020 (KITAS), which was held from July 23 to 25, welcomed 19,862 in three days. KITAS was one of seven international events at COEX in July. Plus, the Grand Hyatt Seoul has held a 500 pax gala dinner safely, with no cases 21 days after the event.

Amazingly, Korea is even seeing hotel openings. In June Lotte’s Signiel Busan opened its doors, while the Wyndham Ramada Plaza Yeousu opened in July. Plus in October both the Grand Hyatt Jeju and Ramada Gumi will open.

The country is not getting complacent and recognises the need for constant vigilance. But this slow and steady approach to events, coupled with the safety measures in place across the entire country, is allowing meetings and events to return.