Schizophrenia International Research Society (SIRS) Statement on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
In response to the rapidly changing circumstances associated with the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the SIRS Officers, Executive Board and 2020 Program Chairs have made the decision to cancel the 2020 Congress of the Schizophrenia International Meeting scheduled to take place 4-8 April 2020 in Florence, Italy. In doing so, SIRS leadership carefully weighed the risks to attendees and their families, colleagues, and members of the global community. SIRS has concerns about the risk to healthcare systems given the medical profile of SIRS attendees and the consequences of potentially displacing healthcare workers from their countries during a critical time, as well as potentially stressing the local Italian health system. Considering all the information available at the moment, SIRS leadership believes that cancelling the conference is the responsible action to take. The health and safety of members, attendees, exhibitors, and the community is its top priority.
SIRS attendees come from all over the world. Over the last two weeks, SIRS leadership learned that many institutions have placed both international and domestic travel bans on their employees for non-essential travel, inclusive of conferences. Italy has recently issued a declaration that all congresses, meetings and social events that involve health professionals are suspended until 3 April, and we need to anticipate that this declaration may be extended beyond 3 April. Similarly, major air carriers are suspending flights to the region (inbound) and several countries where our attendees are located have suspended travel out of their country (outbound). The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also issued a travel alert to avoid all non-essential travel to the region where the congress was to be held. On 9 March, authorities in Italy placed the entire country under quarantine. All of these actions are a direct result of the epidemic of COVID-19. It is clear that it would be an unacceptable risk to bring over 1500 members of the health care community together in Florence, Italy. 

Please know this has been an incredibly difficult decision to make for SIRS leadership. SIRS is a not-for-profit organization that depends heavily on its annual congress to sustain its financial well-being. Cancelling the congress has consequences not just for attendees, presenters, and exhibitors but for the very existence of SIRS as a scientific society. Still, SIRS remains committed to its mission to bring together researchers from across the world who work on schizophrenia and other related disorders.
The SIRS Executive Office is working closely with SIRS leadership and our Italian organizers to appropriately respond to questions regarding reimbursements, travel awards, and other administrative aspects that need to be considered. We recognize all the hard work that so many have put into preparing for the 2020 Congress and we are exploring virtual options for scientific content of the 2020 Congress. SIRS is also investigating the possibility of rescheduling the 2020 Congress to later in the Summer 2020 and will decide about any potential to reschedule promptly. Please stay tuned for additional details. Our goal is to offer an update on next steps no later than 6 April. We thank you in advance for your understanding and patience as we work out the many details.
SIRS 2020 Congress Registration
  • An update will be sent once a final decision regarding postponement or cancellation is made.
SIRS 2020 Congress Housing
  •  If you made your housing reservation through SIRS Italian Organizers, AIM Group, your hotel reservation will be cancelled, and you will receive a full refund for your hotel arrangements.
  •  If you made a group reservation through SIRS Italian Organizers, AIM Group, please contact to to cancel your reservations by 15 March. 
Dear SIRS Members and Congress Registrants,
It is with much regret that we have made the decision to cancel the 4-8 April 2020 Congress in Florence, Italy. The Officers, Program Co-Chairs and Parthenon have on a daily basis carefully watched the spread of the COVID-19 world-wide and have concluded that the only option we currently have is to not risk contributing to the further spread of this highly contagious virus by holding a congress anticipated to include approximately 1500 schizophrenia researchers.
Our thoughts are particularly with our colleagues in China, other Asian countries and Italy where the virus has dramatically spread in such a short period of time . As healthcare providers and researchers, we have a public responsibility to do what we can to combat the spreading of this viral illness. It is also certain that the fear, anxiety and stress over it will have wide-spread major consequences on mental health.
You will receive further communications from us about the practical aspects of this cancellation, including financial issues, and alternatives that will preserve the excellent program that was put together for this year and some of the business and collaborative meetings.
We wish you, your families and colleagues all good health during this world-wide epidemic.

 Lynn E. DeLisi
President, Schizophrenia International Research Society