ISH 2021 as first physical industry event after months of stoppage

Wolfgang Marzin, President and CEO of Messe Frankfurt, talks about the next ISH in March 2021

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28/07/2020 - As the first worldwide Sanitary and HVAC event since the outbreak of Corona, the ISH in Frankfurt offers the sector the much needed business platform to really pick up speed again. 
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Mr. Marzin, can you tell us something about the current state of planning for ISH 2021? 
The current situation shows precisely how important real meetings between people actually are. ISH in March 2021 will be the first major sanitary and HVAC event to have been held since the outbreak of the coronavirus. After months of stoppage in the trade-fair business, now the industry has a significant need to see new products and to do business, but in particular to gain new contacts again in personal meetings. It is precisely in times like these that trade fairs are vital business platforms to boost the economy. The business urgently needs these platforms now, in order to get going properly again. Even – or perhaps especially – under the restrictions which we may have.
So what are your expectations? 
We are assuming that European travel at least will be as possible as it is now. Thus visitors from Germany and Europe will be able to travel safely to ISH. Especially for visitors from outside Europe, and for those who nevertheless do not want to travel to Frankfurt, at Messe Frankfurt we are developing digital offers, which will be available during the ongoing event – as so-called hybrid forms – and in the follow-up to the fair. In this way we shall bring these visitors at least virtually to the event – thus extending its reach for the exhibitors. 
What exactly are the hygiene and social-distancing rules? 
Messe Frankfurt has drawn up a plan and agreed it with the authorities, covering matters of hygiene, medical questions and organisational measures. The hygiene and safety plan is based of course on the requirements currently in force. No-one can see into the future, nor do I have a crystal ball on my desk. Nevertheless, restrictions are being increasingly loosened, so that we can reasonably assume that less conditions will have to be imposed than are currently required. 
Overall, the plan is based on three elements: Firstly, social distancing of 1.5 metres, so that the compulsory wearing of masks can be avoided; secondly, an active visitor-management system, which will allow us to control visitor streams better and thirdly, the hygiene measures.
Hand on heart: how realistic is it to hold ISH 2021? 
It is understandable that the coronavirus pandemic has destroyed confidence. Nor of course do I know how things will be in March. But really we can only look positively towards the future. If the situation in March next year should turn out to be exactly the same as today, then I quite definitely expect ISH to take place – under certain conditions, of course. After all, the protection and hygiene plan developed jointly with the authorities will give us an opportunity to hold ISH under the most stringent safety precautions.  It will become a different ISH, but it will be a trade fair in which it is still worth participating and still worth visiting. 
And if, after all, political conditions should not permit it and the event, due to a second wave of coronavirus, has to be cancelled? 
Should trade fairs be prohibited by the authorities or unreasonable conditions be imposed, we shall consult jointly with our partners, in order then to decide in good time what course to take. Should this happen – which we do not anticipate – then the next ISH will not take place until March 2023. In this case Messe Frankfurt will reimburse the stand rents without deductions at the rate of 100 percent, irrespective of whether the cancellation came from the authorities or whether we have made this decision jointly with our partners. 
The next edition of ISH will be held from 22 to 26 March 2021 (Monday to Friday) in Frankfurt am Main.
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