In mid-November, the Netherlands’ government imposed a three-week partial lockdown to combat a rise in coronavirus cases and spike in infection numbers. The following week, Austria, which has one of the lowest vaccination rates in western Europe, became the first country in that region to reimpose a full COVID-19 lockdown — and neighboring Germany has warned it may follow suit.
Full and partial lockdowns in Europe are a sure sign that the world continues to navigate COVID-caused turbulence. But there’s a difference between full and partial lockdowns. A full lockdown in Austria, scheduled to end on Dec. 13 (at the latest), means that restaurants, Christmas markets and most stores will be closed, and cultural events canceled, while a partial lockdown in Netherlands allows restaurants, bars, and cafes to stay open until 8 p.m. RAI Amsterdam Convention Center remains open, hosting events, although evening activities at the center after 6 p.m. cannot take place.
In fact, METSTRADE, the world’s largest trade exhibition of marine equipment, materials, and systems, was held safely at RAI Amsterdam from Nov. 16-18, after the partial lockdown was announced, attracting 4,000 participants. (See a video of the show floor from the first day of the convention posted on LinkedIn.)
According to the new measures (which remain in place for a period of three weeks from Nov. 13), a maximum number of 1,250 visitors per indoor space will apply for events with fixed seating, such as congresses, but no attendance limits are imposed on trade fairs at the center.
“Health and safety are of the utmost importance to us,” Maurits van der Sluis, COO of RAI Amsterdam, said in a press release. “When we reopened at the beginning of September, we showed that we are able to organize all kinds of large-scale business events in full compliance with public health and safety measures. We take all the necessary measures to ensure that visitors can participate in the events organized safely and responsibly. It goes without saying that we do so in collaboration with the organizers of the events themselves. … The new measures are presently being integrated into our updated protocols.”
Despite the partial lockdown, the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) reconfirmed plans to meet in person at the RAI Amsterdam on Dec. 3-6, along with its digital program. In 2019, the event attracted more than 56,000 attendees from 150 countries around the world. “We will forge ahead,” IBC Chief Executive Michael Crimp said in a press release, “to ensure that whether onsite in Amsterdam or onscreen at home, the industry can come together.”
UPDATE 11/23: IBC announced on Nov. 23 that it canceled the event citing “growing concerns about the COVID-19 situation in The Netherlands … and feedback from the IBC exhibitor and visitor community.” Other events at RAI, including WBWE, the 13th Bulk Wine Exhibition, continue to be held — or are proceeding — as planned.
Michelle Russell is editor in chief of Convene.