Fear of the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted organizers of the Interpack processing and packaging trade fair, originally slated for May 7-13 in Düsseldorf, Germany, to postpone the event. The generally triennial event, last held in 2017, has been rescheduled to take place from February 25-March 3, 2021.
In making the decision, Messe Düsseldorf followed a recommendation of the crisis management team of the German Federal Government to take into account the principles of the Robert Koch Institute when assessing the risk of major events. Based on this advice and the recent significant increase in the number of people infected with the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that originated in Wuhan, China and has spread to Europe and much of the world, Messe Düsseldorf reassessed the situation. In addition, there was a general ruling issued by the city of Düsseldorf on March 11, in which major events with more than 1,000 participants present at the same time are generally prohibited.
“The decision was taken in close consultation with our advisory board and sponsoring associations,” stated Werner M. Dornscheidt, chairman of the board of management of Messe Düsseldorf GmbH.
The conclusion also reflects the wishes of individual industries.
“As their partner, we are currently doing everything in our power to reduce the economic losses suffered by our exhibitors. The city of Düsseldorf is following the instructions of the state government. Our aim is to slow down the spread of the corona virus so that the health system can continue to function properly,” said Thomas Geisel, Lord Mayor of the state capital of Düsseldorf and chairman of the supervisory board of the Düsseldorf trade fair company.
Delaying the spread of the virus as much as possible is also a declared goal of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI). In order to fulfill Messe Düsseldorf’s responsibility for risk prevention, the company primarily had to minimize the increased threat of infection at major events. Measures to reduce the danger of transmission at large gatherings such as ventilation of the venue appropriate to the risk of infection, the exclusion of persons from risk groups and the comprehensive installation of entrance screening, were practically impossible to implement. Also comparable measures were and are unreasonable in view of the unforeseeable rapid development and the size of the various events with up to 60,000 participants.
According to a press released issued on March 13, Interpack’s industry partners support the decision to postpone the fair and together with those responsible, are anticipating a successful event next year.
“Interpack is the absolute top event for the international packaging industry and related processing industries. The trade fair thrives on personal encounters and direct exchange between people from all over the world. This is only possible if there are no health risks involved. Therefore, the postponement is responsible and right. We are looking forward to next year’s event to discuss the issues that are defining the industry, such as sustainability, and to present appropriate solutions,” commented Christian Traumann, president of Interpack 2020 and managing director and group president at Multivac Sepp Haggenmüller SE & Co. KG.
“The corona virus and the associated restrictions now represent a major challenge for the entire mechanical engineering sector. The possible and currently unforeseeable effects of the pathogen with an incalculable risk of infection, the threat of quarantine for returnees, general travel restrictions in some countries, but also considerable travel restrictions on the part of many companies unfortunately make it impossible to successfully hold the Interpack in May. The VDMA, as a supporting association of Interpack, welcomes a postponement under the given exceptional circumstances. The new date now ensures reliability in planning” said Richard Clemens, managing director of the VDMA Food Processing and Packaging Machinery Association.
As of March 13, Covid-19 had claimed 5,096 lives worldwide, of which 3,176 of the deaths occurred in China, the country of origin of the novel coronavirus. Confirmed cases globally were put at 136,074 (80,813 in China) by the World Health Organization.
Italy Now on Lockdown
While official reports of new cases are currently trending downward in China, Italy has emerged as the epicenter of viral transmission in Europe. There have been 1,013 fatalities and 15,113 confirmed infections attributed to Covid-19 in Italy, which is now on lockdown until further notice. In Spain and France the death tolls are 120 and 61 and confirmed cases are 4,209 and 2,876, respectively.
Germany, where three deaths and 2,360 confirmed cases have been reported, is gearing up efforts to combat spread of coronavirus and address the economic crisis that its fallout has wreaked.
Up to 70% of Population at Risk, Says Merkel
“We will do whatever is necessary,” said Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany and defacto leader of the European Union, during a news conference in Berlin a day after the 27 EU leaders held a video conference to formulate an action plan with European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde.
Earlier this week Mrs. Merkel, who holds a doctorate degree in Quantum Chemistry and worked in scientific research prior to entering politics, assessed the health crisis as follows: “When the virus is out there, the population has no immunity and no therapy exists, then 60 to 70% of the population will be infected.”
Emphasizing that the German government’s top priority should be to impede contagion of the virus, the Chancellor added: “The process has to be focused on not overburdening the health system, by slowing the virus’s spread. It’s about winning time.”