As promised, I am writing to provide another update on the status of the Show, as well as the evolution of proposed plans.
The environment continues to be fluid, as the Province of Ontario and City of Toronto work with each sector of business to ensure a safe re-opening for attendees and workers.
Stage 3 restrictions continue to limit gatherings of more than 50 people indoors. This limit is expected to remain in place for the foreseeable future and we all recognize this is not viable for an event that attracts more than 70,000 people annually.
Based on the recent trend of increased case #'s and modelling forecasts, we are not optimistic that the COVID-19 environment will improve enough to allow for approval of attendance limits that meet our show's needs, even with an exceptional plan for safe re-opening. While we know Ontario is doing everything possible to limit the spread and expand re-openings, we also know the virus will still be active for a long time.
Due to what we expect is on the horizon for everyone in Ontario, we have developed a plan that provides a solution. We are all learning that living with this virus will be part of the foreseeable future. Therefore we have advanced our plan to include newly developed protocols that deliver a "COVID FREE" Show.
Yes, you read that correctly - a COVID FREE Show. Our plan outlines attending an event, the Toronto Boat Show, with peace of mind that no one in the building will have COVID-19.
As previously communicated, we understood from the beginning of this, that it would be necessary for our Show to remain flexible until we entered the Fall, while continuing to work on multiple plans.
As the Show is 4+ months away, we are now entering the time-frame for our event's window for peak production, while incorporating the thinking of Public Health and decisions.
As a result of increased knowledge within the medical community, combined with data and rapid advances in new products that will help escalate living with COVID-19 - we have incorporated the most current resources to modify our plan. We are very excited to share this update with you.
We are optimistic that our revised plan for the 2021 Toronto Boat Show will deliver a 100% COVID FREE Show. If approved, the Toronto International Boat Show will be the SAFEST and FIRST place of people gathering together in 2021.
Highlights of the Revised Plan include:
- The Toronto Boat Show will provide rapid testing, outside the point of entry and prior to entering the show, to all attendees, exhibitors and suppliers.
- Approved test technicians/nurses to administer the daily tests (pending approval by Health Canada and Ministry of Health in Ontario for saliva swipe or finger prick test kits), based on developments for rapid testing with results in 15 minutes. Similar to pregnancy tests, which are in production by several companies and approved in other countries.
- Rapid testing would be included in attendee admission fees, and required to attend the show
- Re-assurance that all at the show will be safe, creating a Daily Bubble.
- Negative test results can enter the Show.
- If anyone tests positive, there will be a re-direct protocol to public health in a designated room outside of the show floor, and they will not be permitted to enter.
- The Toronto Boat Show is in a position to demonstrate a solution to resuming in person business events, and to help protect the public. We are willing to go above and beyond to be partners with the government and lead the way in reviving the economy.
- The virus is not going away. We have a plan that can deliver a model that will provide long-term economic and mental health benefits by helping resume public gatherings of people and businesses.
- As we are proposing to be the 1st event to test every person upon entry, we want to ensure all safety protocols exceed the expectations of attendees, exhibitors and the provincial/municipal governments
- Therefore some of the COVID safety protocols will remain in the plan, in order to increase pubic comfort for attending an event that prioritizes their safety
- There will be wider aisles in certain areas of the show, in order to maintain physical distancing practices consistent with retail locations (shopping malls, big box stores, grocery stores).
- While we don't feel wider aisles would be necessary if we are providing a COVID free event, we want to do the right thing and maintain consistent practices that are important to the public and government in the Re-opening plans across Ontario.
- Enhanced cleaning in general show areas to elevate comfort of attendees and workers.
- Show and Exhibitor décor/carpet are expected to be maintained within the plan.
- Face Masks/Coverings will be Optional.
The volume of requests from exhibitors for space, combined with support to find a path for the show to proceed safely has been motivating. We have developed a significant plan that will exceed proposed Health and Safety protocols, anywhere.
As you know we are consumed with Health & Safety, and we have been this way consistently, year after year. We have the most stringent requirements for platforms, stairs, railings and ramps, all with the attendee's safety top of mind. Most exhibitors have experienced multiple modifications to their displays or the area around their display, as a result of the high safety standards of our Boat Show Team, Safety Engineer, and City of Toronto inspector. As well, we have the strictest move-in/out protocols to ensure worker safety.
The inclusion of the newly developed rapid testing methods in the plan are for everyone's safety, despite the environment of COVID-19. The results are generated quickly and the tests are not invasive. The expectation among many in the medical community is that there will be an overwhelming acceptance of usage by the public, once the products are approved by Health Canada.
Based on where Ontario is in the 3 Stage Plan for Re-opening, and the time required for the government to work through policy for public health, product applications and approvals, we are currently planning for 3 possible Scenarios:
Scenario 1: In-person Show is approved for January dates (with all requiring rapid test, and some virtual/on-line format)
Scenario 2: In-person Show is approved with all requiring rapid test (but January is too early for the government approvals of Rapid Test, and the show will pursue later dates), and some virtual/on-line format
Scenario 3: In-person Show is not approved. Virtual show, online marketplace, and promoting exhibitors' events at their place of business.
We know you will have questions, and we will do our best to answer them as we work through the Review and Approval Process. The proposed plan is unique to the Toronto Boat Show.
We truly understand how important this Show is to the industry and your businesses, and we are proud to share this update with you today.
Applications for 2021 Space
As a result of the process and timeline we are working within, we will now need to know the square footage of space for the 2021 Show that you would like to request, assuming the plan is approved.
You will recall from our prior update, out of an abundance of respect for how busy exhibitors were during this very busy boating season, we wanted to be mindful of your time. We also wanted to have a path we felt comfortable with to hold the show, and have further clarity on the floorplan before we would begin contracting into spaces.
Points to note:
- We will be developing a revised floorplan, as a result of changes to a few of the aisles and areas around bathrooms & food concessions.
- The layout will be developed once we have received the square footage requests from prior year (2020) exhibitors, with some availability for new exhibiting companies.
- More information and specifics will be sent next week by email, along with the application.
- Please note there will be a short timeline to send back applications, followed by a 10% deposit, in order for us to have what is required for the floorplan process with the venue and health officials.
- If the process results in Scenario 3 (In-Person Show is not approved as proposed in Scenario 1 or 2), Exhibitors will be included in the Toronto Boat Show On-line event. 100% of your deposit will be deferred to the 2022 Show as a renewing exhibitor deposit.
We will be establishing decision dates for the In-Person Scenarios, and we will advise you of these as soon as possible. Like each of you, we need planning and execution time.
We recognize and support the process to keep Ontario safe and we will continue to work through the channels with our Exhibitors and Attendees at the forefront of our decisions.
If you would like to receive a follow-up call to discuss anything prior to the space applications next week, please contact either Cynthia or myself. We are both speaking with exhibitors on a daily basis, and we are happy to discuss the Show and process further.