June 10, 2022 | By Joyce DiMascio

The COVID beast is still around and it’s knocking down event participants like a can of Mortein.

There’s no mist that protects you. Where there are lots of people gathering, there is still lots of spreading virus, irrespective of vaccination, safety protocols and cleaning.

Anecdotal reports from across the industry indicate lots of people came down with COVID after AIME and lots of attendees at IMEX last week have also since come down with the virus and have had to delay their return home. Of course, they could have picked it up travelling to and from the event by plane, train or automobile, or at peripheral activities, but the concentration amongst show participants suggests otherwise.

That’s not fun – it’s never pleasant being sick when you are travelling, but to be sick with COVID overseas is a major downer given the risks and all the restrictions and costs that apply once you’ve had a positive diagnosis.

Looking at pictures of the recent events being held around the country and around the world, not a lot of people are wearing masks at events, except in Asia. In some cases, there’s not much social distancing either – and there’s plenty of networking going on.

I know it’s hard to wear a mask, but it’s the single biggest thing you can do to stop yourself from inadvertently spreading the virus or being infected by someone else who doesn’t know they have it. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly where you may pick up the virus when travelling long distances to attend events. But wear the mask.

Of all the industry professionals with a stake in this, our people more than anyone could be leading by example and sticking with mask-wearing. It’s annoying, it may make it harder to eat and drink at events and to socialise, but it is possible to network and do business with a mask on.

The enthusiasm to get back to business is literally infectious. The optimism about the rebound is exciting, but in the excitement and euphoria, as an industry we could be more diligent by continuing to wear masks and be a little more socially distanced, especially at networking events.

Don’t abandon the single biggest tool we have – the mask. Wear it – think about those around you and yourself and try to avoid getting sick with COVID (and now the flu too). The pandemic is not over.

The NSW Chief Medical Officer Kerry Chant and the ABC’s Dr Norman Swan all continue to advocate the merits of wearing a mask, especially indoors – and at events.