Last month, an audacious Orlando, Florida hosted a trade show with 5,000 participants. The event was jointly organized by three apparel industry organizations. The show was described as a “pilot” to test the effectiveness of precautionary measures.

While the TV sector has yet to return to in-person events, it’s looking more and more likely that, come summer, virtual fatigue from the abundance of online TV markets will fully set in. Still, MIP-TV (April 12-16), the Upfronts (May 17-20), the L.A. Screenings (various dates in May and June), and everything else that follows thereafter, will be virtual.

There is some light at the end of the pandemic tunnel in August, however, with Series Mania, an in-person event scheduled in Lille, France, August 30-September 1. NATPE Budapest will (unfortunately) be held concurrently with Series Mania as a combined physical and virtual show set for August 30-September 2, 2021.

Shortly thereafter, TV France International will be staging its traditional Le Rendez Vous in Biarritz September 5-9 in person, followed by a live IBC exhibition in Amsterdam September 10-13.

The following month, MIPCOM will return as an in-person market on October 11-14 in Cannes, but before that, the NAB Show in Las Vegas will be live October 9-13.

In November the industry will experience two in-person markets: AFM in Santa Monica, California, which will be held November 2-7, and MIP Cancun in Mexico, set for November 16-19. Then executives can get some rest for a few days before heading to Singapore for the last major in-person TV trade show of the year, the Asia TV Forum, which is scheduled for December 1-3.

And so the second part of 2021 should conclude with some semblance of normalcy, but still under the auspices of a “new normal.” Let’s hope that, between people being vaccinated and those who acquired antibodies naturally, by fall there will be sufficient herd immunity to make traveling and gatherings much safer.

As for the mega shows, the Mobile World Congress (which in the past drew over 100,000 people) will return to Barcelona, Spain, with a hybrid event in June 2021. The CES is also expected to stage a hybrid event in Las Vegas in January 2022.

As for the apparel show in Orlando, 18 participants who took the mandatory on-site COVID test and tested positive, immediately left the venue and no infected attendees were reported. Considering that COVID’s contagious symptoms usually start to show after five days from infection onset, one test at the start of a four-day show should be sufficient.

In addition to on-site tests, participants had to wear masks and have their temperatures checked. The aisles had no carpets (to make them easier to sanitize). Floor markings indicated the safe distance participants should keep from others. And hand sanitizer stations were in every corner. Plus, posters reminded people not to hug or shake hands.

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