Last week, once the news about the Italian cluster
came out, we realised that the chances of the pandemic actually happening – and affecting the Summit – are definitely higher than zero, and started with the contingency planning.
Since then, the case count in Italy shoot up to almost 300, the case count in South Korea is nearly 1,000 and the list of countries with confirmed infections now includes Austria, Spain, Croatia, Israel and Turkey (also, Iran is estimated to have as many as 5,000 cases based on the number of fatalities). A pretty accurate snapshot is available via this link
courtesy of Johns Hopkins.
On one hand, there are still zero cases in the Baltics (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) as well as in Poland and Czech Republic, while Germany, Finland and France seem to be doing a fine job containing the few cases that they’ve had so far.
On another, as the example of Italy demonstrates, the lack of confirmed cases doesn’t mean the lack of infections in the region, given that it takes a few weeks to develop the symptoms – and then having access to the testing kit to actually confirm the infection as SARS2/COVID-19 (and based on this story
from Miami, few people in America are likely to see medical help if asking to get tested results in a charge of $3K – welcome to the wonderful world of capitalism, y'all).
Based on this, we felt that we definitely need to have a “plan B” for the Summit, and here’s what we agreed on:
1️⃣ We keep preparing to run the Summit on schedule – while at the same time, we reach out to all of our local partners about the possibility that we might have to move the event to Q3 2020. And as of today, we’re 100% ready for the move if we’ll need to move.
2️⃣ If at any time prior to the Summit there’s a confirmed cluster of infections in or around Vilnius, then we move the event to Q3 without any doubts.
First of all, if you look at Milan today (schools, supermarkets closed; trade shows cancelled), then it’s definitely not a place where you want to have a group meeting – purely from the operations angle. Secondly, if you reflect on the Singapore-France-UK case
, then you can imagine the risk related to having nearly 300 attendees from 33 countries against that background: it’s something that, even with 0.1% odds, I simply would not take.
3️⃣ If during the month of March we understand than more than 20% of the attendees cannot attend (whether due to country-based difficulties, e.g. no chance to receive the visa in time; or policy-based rules, e.g. most of my friends at global companies are already in a soft no-travel mode), then we also push the event to Q3.
The whole point of the Summit is to connect professionals from around the globe: you should be able to catch up with Vanessa
on Brazil, Arata
-san on Japan and Jack
on China. It simply would not work if instead of 33 countries at the Summit, we have 16 or 20, with key regions missing out.
Current status (25/02/2020):
✅ There are zero cases in Lithuania and its neighbour countries.
✅ We have zero cancellations from any of the attendees.
✅ Status of the Summit: we proceed as scheduled.
Let’s see where we are in one week, in two weeks and then in four weeks from now. We must keep our eyes on the ball: the Summit is a community event that serves a very specific purpose. And if we cannot make it properly at the end of April, then we’ll move it to the date that would work better for all of you.
Your personal check list:
a) all of the hotel bookings arranged via Alma with the hotels are 100% refundable up until 7 days before the arrival. So there’s no need to take any action there – and if we do move the event, then we will notify the hotels directly.
b) please check your flight tickets and your airline’s policy in case of a travel ban / change of travel dates, as there’s a non-zero chance that you may have to adjust to the situation at short notice.
With this topic off the list, let’s move to the program –