By Dom Serafini
It is hoped that come MIPCOM (October 12), COVID-19 will no longer be a threat and will only be a bad dream from the past. Then, again, the world could find itself experiencing a new wave of infections.
The French government has banned gatherings of more than 5,000 people until early September, and MIPCOM organizers have already sent contracts to potential exhibitors, and are proceeding with preparations.
By September, the world should have several medications that will help to eliminate the virus’s mortal grip (if not a vaccine to prevent it). Nonetheless, even under this “new normal,” market organizers will be taking several precautions to keep attendees safe –– some low-tech, others high-tech. This is how I envision a “new normal” MIPCOM, with a tagline that might as well be, “Rebound With a Safe, Secure, and Productive Market.”
By October 12, all the public places in Cannes will have well-oiled safety procedures in place, and MIPCOM organizers will help promote their compliance (especially at bars and restaurants). Hotels will be prepared to house market participants who discover that they have been infected with the virus while at the market, and must be quarantined. In addition, MIPCOM will send participants a note on precautions to take at various stages of the trip, and a list of items to bring with them, such as disinfecting wipes and disposable cups.
In terms of low-tech procedures, MIPCOM attendees will be required to wear masks. These (undoubtedly sponsored) masks will be mailed in advance to market registrants, along with their plastic-covered badges, so as to eliminate lines at the on-site registration kiosks. Masks will have to be worn when walking around the market areas, and the organizers will encourage one-on-one meetings sans welcoming hugs, and recommend that handshakes be replaced with elbow touching. As for the market bags, those will be picked up at registrants’ hotels. On-site registration will be by appointment only.
In terms of attendance, MIPCOM organizers won’t have to impose limits since participating companies will, on their own, reduce their contingents to essential people only, each of whom will presumably have virus-free certificates.
Arriving in Cannes by plane might be the weakest link since airlines could pack their economy cabins with passengers. However, according to VideoAge‘s airline insider, “It appears that the airline industry is going to try to implement some sort of safe document for passengers to present (like another passport), which will indicate that they are OK to board a plane. Delta, for example, is not trying to pack aircrafts. Instead, it is eliminating the middle seat and trying to stagger seated passengers accordingly.”
Market organizers could also help participants by suggesting scattered traveling during low-peak days of the week, and offering good hotel packages for extended stays.
There will be many more badge inspection and security control areas at the market’s entrances so as to avoid creating lines.
Naturally, anti-bacterial soap foam dispensers –– the type that activates by placing your hands underneath them –– will be scattered all around the market areas. In addition, floor marks will remind people of proper social distancing (including on the escalators), and arrows will indicate the walking direction (i.e., keep right). Attendants will operate the elevators and allow only one person per ride.
All parties held at the stands will be banned, and parties outside the market areas will be limited to sit-down events with tables that normally accommodate 10 people now seating just five. The tables will also be separated by at least two meters.
Conference rooms will be filled at 50 percent capacity, with people sitting in every other chair, and participants will have to pre-register to attend.
In terms of high-tech procedures, thermal scanners will be used to spot attendees with fevers in the market areas. This particular check will be also implemented at the badge inspection entry points.
The quality of air circulation will be monitored, and the market floor will be disinfected every night. The various bar areas in the Palais will take orders via e-mail and provide a pick-up time, and cash transactions will be eliminated. Finally, the Palais will have a kiosk with a medical team that will monitor potentially positive participants that are asymptomatic.