COVID-19 – Living In Fear

Will any of the shows go on?


For Japan, CP+ was the snowball that started all of this, but a wave of event cancellations are being announced in real time as the Wuhan coronavirus (Covid-19) continues to spread at viral rates. The majority of cancellations, at present, are pertaining to bigger shows like CP+ and other large trade shows, but as Fashion Weeks are in season, cancellations are also beginning to crop up, including Armani closing his show to the public and live streaming the show, which was scratched hours before show time. Seoul Fashion Week just cancelled their entire event. Tokyo Girls Collection is opting to go the online live streaming route. There’s also growing buzz about Tokyo 2020 and what it would mean to cancel the Summer Olympics, particularly in the wake of volunteer training events having been postponed, and comments from a senior International Olympic Committee member.

Despite the unknowns, and with enhanced health safety plans in place, many events this quarter are moving ahead as scheduled, like the WPPI, which kicked off this week, and NAB expected to go on as planned in Las Vegas

“Despite the cancellation of CP+, many other conferences are still occurring and there are no plans to cancel upcoming events,” event organizers said in a statement. “Note that the WHO is currently advising against the application of any restrictions on international traffic. Based on the information currently available on the outbreak, the Health Ministers & CDC is recommending standard safety practices that should be instituted during any flu season, and there are no U.S. Dept. of State Travel Advisories for countries other than China with relation to Novel Coronavirus.”


The cancellation of major events, like CP+, left many exhibitors wondering how they would make up for the lost opportunity to engage attendees and promote their products. Some cleverly pivoted to digital strategies, including fashion designer Giorgio Armani. For Milan Fashion Week in Italy, Feb. 18-24, Armani for the first time in its 45-year history cancelled its live fashion event. The brand instead staged the show in the event space without an audience, and streamed it online, giving viewers a chance to see his latest designs for the 2020 Autumn/Winter Collection, and even offering a digital tour of its venue in Milan, Italy.

As of February 26th, Girlswalker has decided to close its doors to having an audience and will be offering refunds for all of its soldout ticket holders and guests will now have to settle with watching everything from TGC official LINE app by live stream.


For now, all eyes are on the venues, which are leveraging Health Minister’s protocols and increasing sanitization measures typically put in place for flu season. Among tools and technology available: electrostatic disinfecting machines and “fever screen” services that use thermal imaging technology to monitor attendees’ temperatures as they enter an event.

Makuhari Messe and Tokyo Big Sight, where majority of all trade shows and events take place, are both providing sanitation stations, wipes, tissues and recommending  attendees wear face masks, and placing signage on-site that encourages attendees to cover their mouths and noses when they sneeze, to discard tissues right away, and to use hand sanitizer or soap and water right away. Staff are sanitizing all surfaces regularly, including speaker microphones between each speaker’s use.

In addition, the convention center is encouraging attendees to maintain “social distancing,” i.e. to adopt a no-handshake policy at the event and stand a minimum of 3 feet (1 meter) from other people. In addition, registered attendees will be asked to verify that if they have traveled to China in the last month, at least 14 days have passed between the time they returned from China and the event, and show no flu-like symptoms in that time.

Of course, the biggest way to protect event attendees from any virus is hand-washing—we’re talking scrubbing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds several times a day.

There are always signs at the venues that [say] ‘cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.’ But I think it’s important, if you have a fever, you have cough, you have a sore throat, and most importantly, any difficulty breathing, to seek help right away, basically if you think you are sick in any way, then just stay home and don’t risk going out and spreading illnesses just to be part of the crowd..

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