As news of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) spread continues to heighten humanity’s collective anxiety with each daybreak, a unique burden falls upon event planners — those people helping to grease the wheels of commerce while bringing together people from all corners of the world.
The organizer of some the world’s largest coffee trade events, the Specialty Coffee Association, has announced that as of today, it’s all systems go for its annual United States event, the Specialty Coffee Expo, scheduled to take place in Portland, Oregon in April.
The group is also moving forward with other major events as planned, including the Re:co Symposium in Portland, the World Coffee Championships at multiple locations, and the World of Coffee event this summer in Warsaw, Poland.
The SCA’s announcement follows an announcement earlier this week from the organizers of Australia’s largest coffee event, the Melbourne International Coffee Expo (MICE), that the event is currently scheduled to run as planned in May.
Thus far, the only major SCA-related events to have been canceled or postponed due to coronavirus concerns are the WCE All Stars event in Shanghai (postponed), the China National Coffee Championships (postponed), and two of the Korean national coffee championships events, which are currently rescheduled to May.
“As each event approaches, we have set up a task force that meets daily to discuss the latest developments and the inquiries coming in from the community to help us to determine the safest course of action,” SCA CEO Yannis Apostolopoulos wrote in an email sent to SCA members today. “Our decisions and actions continue to be informed by local and global health authorities. We have created a page on our website with health information and answers to frequently asked questions, which we update on a regular basis as the situation evolves.”
The SCA has also created a modified cupping protocol along with a list of other precautions and protective measures that it will be taking at upcoming events. For more on the SCA’s COVID-19 response efforts and what hosts, guests and venues can do to minimize risk of exposure and infection, check out the group’s new COVID page.
If you’re a coffee shop retailer, check out this recent piece from DCN for some tips on how to prepare for potential government-imposed shutdowns or loss of business.
COVID-19 or not, wash your hands.
[Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story compared the number of confirmed COVID-19 outbreaks to annual numbers related to seasonal influenza. Knowing what we now know about the testing, spread and mortality incidence related to COVID-19, we regret making that comparison.]