MIPIM, the annual international property fair in south-east France, will go ahead next month despite concerns over the spread of coronavirus across Europe
The organisers insisted the event in Cannes, which attracts more than 26,000 attendees including hundreds of UK architects, would be ‘open for business as scheduled’ despite the serious outbreak in nearby Lombardy, north-west Italy.
Italy is the most infected country outside Asia, with 322 cases reported so far, and the threat of contagion of the virus has already caused the annual Milan Furniture Fair to be postponed from April to June.
The team behind MIPIM, which is set to run between 10-13 March, said it was not planning to cancel the 2020 event but added that its ‘absolute priority’ was the ‘health and safety’ of delegates.
Organisers said they ‘continued to follow the guidance provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO) regarding travel and participation at major events such as MIPIM’ and had updated ‘measures related to coronavirus’.
In an email sent to delegates, MIPIM director Ronan Vaspart said the event had increased its hygiene measures and had ‘reinforced [the] presence of dedicated medical specialists’ within the main seafront Palais des Festival conference hall.
Vaspart said the precautions included more ‘onsite signage and trained staff’ to remind visitors of WHO hygiene recommendations as well as ‘reinforced cleaning of all zones within the Palais des Festivals venue [and] hydro-alcoholic hand gel in all public spaces’.
However, on social media, there appeared to be growing unease about attending the fair, which last year hosted more than 6,000 UK visitors (see tweets below). Meanwhile property agents Knight Frank and Cushman & Wakefield were both reported to have cancelled their plans to attend the event. Architect HOK has also confirmed it has withdrawn from MIPIM.
Even so, the delegation from the Italian Trade Agency/Invest in Italy told the AJ it had no current plans to drop out. A spokesperson for Milan and the Lomardy region, which is set to have a stand at the 2020 show, added: ‘At the moment, the city of Milano and Lombardy region – together with their private partners – are confirmed at MIPIM.
‘Of course we are dealing with the situation “per hour”, so we will see what the authorities will give us further instructions about entering France, or not.’
Following the postponement of #SaloneDelMobile until June should #MIPIM2020 @MIPIMWorld go ahead? What duty of care do employers have if sending their employees to MIPIM this year? 23,000 people from 26 countries are expected to attend.#coronavirus— Rise Architects (@Risearchitects) February 26, 2020
I cancelled my trip to MIPIM yesterday. The fact that 10s of thousands of people from round the world are descending on one town&there is an outbreak 3 hours drive away is a huge cause for concern.The chances are small but not a risk I want to take with a 6 month old at home.— Adam Stiles (@stilesy88) February 26, 2020