Antigen tests, rock star doctors, and Stay Homas: events in the new normal
The Back to Events project vindicates the importance of the sector and the possibility of organising safe conventions
BarcelonaGiving out your name: done. Grabbing the FFP2 face mask they hand out to you and putting it one: done. Run your hands through an automatic hydroalcoholic gel dispenser: done. Pick up a small portable gel dispenser: done. Head to the antigen testing area: done. Sign a consent form stating that you have no symptoms of covid, that you have not been in contact with any infected people (that you know of), and that you agree to let them know if you test positive in the next few days, among other things: done. Give your mobile phone so that the system will notify you of the result once the antigen test has been analysed: done. Go through the stick-in-nose issue: done. Waiting for a while in the open air space next door while the result is sent to your mobile phone: done. Show the message stating you are virus-free to the person guarding the access door: done. We finally hear: "Welcome to a safe event!"
The Cambra de Comerç, the event organiser Saez DeCom and Turisme de Barcelona have joined forces this Thursday to organise an event in which the industry of large-scale events will vindicate itself. They have called it Back To Events in an attempt to defend the place that they believe the industry deserves in the new normal. A reality that, seemingly, has very little in common with normality: events are now a scavenger hunt, and doctors are now the rock stars.
The most acclaimed person by the audience is Oriol Mitjà, the researcher in infectious diseases who has been a media reference during the hardest months of the pandemic. He is one of the speakers at the event and his role is, above all, to argue why antigen testing is the key to recovering the industry's activity. In short: if you ensure that a person does not have the virus, you minimise the risk of contagion.
This doesn't take the face mask or the safety distance out of the equation, but at least it allows a hundred or so people to be seated in a room that hasn't seen this kind of activity since the entrepreneurial ecosystem got together to organise a convention that would serve as an alternative to the cancelled Mobile World Congress in 2020, the Barcelona Tech Spirit. With the exception of the distances, the message is somewhat reminiscent of the one that was given then.
A billion-dollar impact
With a screen behind them accompanying the speeches with coloured images, the director of the Barcelona Convention Bureau, Cristoph Tessmar; the events organiser Raimond Torrents; the chef Nandu Jubany; the director of the audiovisual fair ISE, Mike Blackman; the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Mònica Roca; and the infectious diseases researcher doctor Oriol Mitjà, appeared one after the other on stage to agree that Barcelona is worthwhile and that the events industry is essential for it to continue being in that way.
Fira de Barcelona generates an annual impact of 4,700 million euros, says one of them. The Mobile and the ISE are worth 4,000 million euros to the city, adds the other. Before the pandemic, the industry generated a turnover of 810 million euros, says a third. "Events are essential for the economic, social and cultural development of our country", summarises the journalist who hosts the event, Elisabet Carnicé.
To put the icing on the cake, they broadcast a video promoting Barcelona which, as she herself confesses moments later, deeply moved Mònica Roca. Perhaps it is because the music that accompanies it is by Stay Homas, which, despite the joy it conveys, is for many people the soundtrack of lockdown. The events may come back, but it will be a long time before we forget this year.