Even as the entire planet is struggling to deal with the pandemic, the most effective of defensive tools against COVID-19 has been revealed to be the most basic - improved and consistent hygiene. Basic hygiene has never been more critical, not only in fighting COVID-19 but also in preventing a slew of other infections.
We believe adopting a state of heightened hygiene practices is the only way for the world of scientific and academic conferencing to go on functioning through this trying period without putting the health and safety of the conference family (which includes participants, organizers, speakers, and others) at any risk whatsoever.
As part of these heightened hygiene measures, everything from hand sanitizing stations, improved safety standards at food catering facilities, water dispensary outlets, restroom facilities, seats for participants, organizers and speakers, have all been put in place.
In view of the fact that the WHO, the CDC, and various other organizations across the globe have highlighted the importance of regularly sanitizing and disinfecting areas and surfaces which are touched often, due measures to regularly sanitize these areas will be in place.
Pariticipants will additionally also be provided with their own hand sanitizer dispensors for their personal use through the course of the event. This will make it easier for them to keep their hands clean at all times and make use of the sanitizer as soon as they've touched a surface, shaken hands or sneezed/coughed into them.
● Owing to the air-borne nature of the COVID-19 virus, all due precautions will be taken by the organizing committees in charge of organizing our various international conferences.
● All HVAC systems functioning at the venues of our proposed international conferences will be regularly cleaned in between sessions as well as after the conclusion of every day of an event.
● Due health and safety measures to ventilate the conference halls, restroom facilities, eateries, and cafeterias adequately will also be taken so as to completely minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus amongst participants, speakers, organizers, and volunteers.
● Air purifiers will also be placed all throughout the venue and conference halls in order to maintain the continuous inflow of clean and filtered air.
● All measures to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces both inside and outside the conference venue in between every session and at the conclusion of each day of an event will be in place. Everything from seats and door handles to sink handles, drinking fountains, railings, elevators, and registration counters will be cleaned and disinfected regularly.
● Additionally, the cleaning and disinfecting of items shared between uses, such as payment terminals, tables, counters, etc, will also be undertaken.
● Other areas such as drinking fountains that cannot be properly cleaned and sanitized during an event will also be shut down entirely so as to prevent participants from using them and elevating the risk of either spreading or catching the COVID-19 virus.
● All organizing committees will be required to develop schedules for the increased routine cleaning and disinfection of the venues of upcoming events. Members of the organizing committee will have to enforce these schedules by planning and applying these cleaning routines, and making sure other groups that may use the facilities of the conference venue also follow these routines.
● All transport vehicles such as buses and pool cars that are used by event staff, drivers should practice all safety measures and protocols given for other staff - for instance, washing hands often and wearing masks as well as practicing social distancing from bus drivers.
● Organizers and sanitation staff will be required to ensure the safe and correct use and storage of cleaners and disinfectants to prevent harm to participants, speakers, members of the organizing committee, and others.
● Both the members of the organizing committee and sanitation staff will have to take care not to use cleaning products near children that might be nearby or present. They will also have to ensure that there is adequate ventilation when using these products to prevent participants or themselves from inhaling toxic fumes.
● Sanitation staff will be required to make use of disposable gloves to remove garbage bags or to handle and dispose of garbage. Subsequent to using these disposable gloves, they will have to dispose of them in lined trash bins.
● In order to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus by way of the saliva droplets on microphones, we will take due measures to either adopt the usage of multiple microphones so as to prevent.
● Additionally, multiple microphones will be made possible at our conferences whenever possible. This will make it feasible for the conference organizers to be able to prevent the usage of a single microphone by more than one person, thus minimizing the risk of the COVID-19 virus spreading from one speaker to another.
● In events where the usage of multiple microphones is not feasible, the organizers of our conferences as well as volunteers at these events will resort to thoroughly sanitizing the microphone each time a different person is set to use it.
● Plastic curtains will be made use of wherever necessary to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus by means of stray cough, sneeze, or saliva droplets.
● After assessing the areas within and outside the venue of the conference where human interaction is most likely to take place, the members of the organizing committee of every scheduled conference will ensure that plastic curtains are put in place, in an appropriate position.
● These curtains will be installed at registration counters where participants will have to interact with members of the organizing committee; on the stage where speakers will have to stand in front of a mic to address participants; at help desks where participants will have to communicate with volunteers, and at the restaurants, exhibition booths or other eateries where interaction amongst participants, organizers, volunteers, restaurant/cafeteria staff and exhibitors is bound to take place.
● All members of the organizing committee, volunteer committee, sanitation staff, cafeteria & restaurant staff, speakers, and others, will be required to wear fitted nose and mouth shields or masks as part of the health and safety guidelines followed internationally against the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
● Every one of these professionals will also be subject to daily temperature checks before the start of each conference day as well as the conclusion of each conference day to ensure that their health is in no way compromised. They will also be required to duly inform their reporting authorities in case they notice symptoms closely associated with COVID-19 or other flu-like symptoms.
● All of these professionals will also be required to regularly sanitize their hands using the hand sanitizers provided and at the hand sanitization stations that will be in multiple locations at the conference venue.
● The social distancing we have adopted for our conferences across the globe are measures aimed at reducing interactions within the conference venue which may include infected individuals not yet identified, therefore not isolated. As diseases transmitted by respiratory droplets (such as the COVID-19 virus) require some physical proximity for contagion to occur, social distancing helps reduce transmission.
● Participants are urged to restrict themselves from moving outside their designated seats and to cooperate with the conference organizers by complying with the pre-planned seating arrangements.
● Participants are urged to avoid unnecessary face-to-face meetings or keep them should be short if they are absolutely unavoidable.
● The seating arrangements at all our forthcoming events will be planned in such a way that participants will have to be seated at least six feet from each other and avoid shaking hands.
● Participants are requested not to congregate in workrooms, pantries, copier rooms or other places where the space is very limited, and maintaining the mandatory six feet distance is not possible.
● All the proposed venues for our scheduled international conferences will follow the health and safety guidelines for indoor events put forth by local and federal authorities.
● Registration lines will follow due social distancing norms so that those who wish to register needn't be afraid of putting their health at any risk. Every person in the line will be required to stand at a distance of six feet apart from the person in front and the person behind. Registration booths will also be equipped with temperature checking facilities and hand sanitizing stations so that the organizers can check the temperature of the participants and offer them hand sanitizers before entering the conference premises or conference.
● The seating arrangements at the conference hall of the venue will also follow the six-feet rule according to which seats will be placed six-feet apart from each other so as to avoid participants from crowing each other and thereby increasing the risk of the virus spreading.
● Only a limited number of occupants will be allowed at the restroom facilities in order to avoid overcrowding. Lines that follow the six-feet rule will be formed for those wishing to make use of these facilities.
● The entire premises of the conference venue, both inside and outside will be regularly cleaned and disinfected to maintain hygiene standards. By maintaining such high standards of hygiene, the risk of anybody involved with the conference spreading or catching the virus will be greatly minimized.
● Due measures will be in place at the catering facilities, cafeterias, restaurants, and any eateries or stalls that will be set up at our international conferences for the convenience of the participants of these events as they will not have to resort to dining outside or take the trouble of packing food from home.
● Sanitizing stations will be placed in the kitchens of these establishments so that the staff may constantly keep their hands clean at all times and avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus amongst themselves as well as avoid passing it on to the diners and frequenters of their establishments.
● All tables and seating at these restaurants, cafeterias, and eateries will follow due social distancing norms to prevent the spread of the virus from diner to diner as well as to reassure participants of the establishment that they will not have to put their health or safety at risk while dining, allowing them to make use of the facilities in peace.
● The Grill will be completely outfitted with sanitization stations within and outside the restaurant so that everyone from the staff of the restaurant (including cooks, waiters, security personnel, and others) to the diners as well as members of the conference organizing committee and volunteers
● The Grill will function completely as per the guidelines stipulated by local, and federal health bodies for the safe and hygienic functioning of eaters and dining establishments during this pandemic period.
● All tables and seats within the Grill will adhere to the social distancing norms prescribed by local and federal health bodies, so as to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus amongst frequenters of the establishment to the participants, organizers, volunteers, and others.
● Participants of our international conferences are requested to cooperate and adhere to the following guidelines, so as to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and enjoy a safe, risk-free, and thoroughly fulfilling conference-experience.
● Participants are urged to maintain a minimum distance of one meter from other participants during the course of an entire conference and remain in their marked seats. If this distance cannot be maintained because of the seating arrangement, every other seat should be left vacant, unless the risk of infection can be minimized by other appropriate protective measures.
● Masks must be worn in all common areas of the conference venue, such as hallways, elevators, rotunda, cafeterias, and restrooms. This is in addition to spaces where masks were already required, such as the conference hall, stage, and outside the premises of the conference venue.
● Participants are requested to use fitted nose and mouth shields or masks rather than face shields and visors. This is owing to the latest studies released by WHO & CDC that indicate that better droplet and aerosol reduction when wearing a mask or fabric nose cover can be achieved compared to face shields and visors.
● Participants are urged to sport a mask or nose and mouth cover at all times, even when seated in their assigned places. Maintaining a minimum distance of one meter from other people during the entirety of a conference is advised. Distances of at two meters will be even more beneficial as it minimalizes the risk of exposure drastically. Masks can exceptionally be removed if a distance of two meters is maintained and the participant does not need to speak for more than fifteen minutes at a stretch.
● Participants are urged not to take part in a conference if they are not feeling well. If the symptoms and conditions they are experiencing are similar to those symptoms commonly associated with those infected with COVID-19 or even remotely associated with the flu, then participants should realize that this indicates that they may be considered a suspected case of COVID-19. In such a case, they should also notify the organizers of the conference who will contact the security emergency services.
● Participants are urged to avoid gathering and meeting in groups between sessions for coffee breaks, lunchtime, etc., unless absolutely necessary or during scheduled networking and professional socializing events that are planned as part of a conference.
● Participants are also requested to note that no food or drink can be served at the meeting, except at designated areas such as the cafeteria and coffee stations of the conference venue.
● Organizers will have to make it clear to participants that no one who is sick or observing flu-like symptoms should attend the conference.
● Organizers are required to communicate that physical distance and wearing a mask, or nose and mouth cover is mandatory at all times.
● Organizers will have to inform participants that they will not be provided with face masks at the venue of the conference but will have to bring their own. They will also have to make it clear to participants that they will to wear a face mask or nose-mouth protection when entering the premises as well as maintain a physical distance of at least one meter or six-feet at all times from other participants, volunteers, organizers and others.
● Organizers will have to clearly communicate the no handshake policy to all participants as well as take up the responsibility of putting in place a cleaning protocol and facilitating the easy and widespread availability of hand sanitizers.
● Organizers will have to ensure that adequate HVAC facilities functioning and well-maintained throughout the course of an event.
● Organizers will also have to ensure that there is an operational procedure to deal with any suspected case(s) of COVID-19 and for undertaking the subsequent research of the participants' close contacts (name, address, telephone, e-mail).