COVID-19 Passport: Enabling Safe Return of In-person Trade Show Attendance

May 11, 2021

Arvind Kothandaraman

Arvind Kothandaraman is the general manager of specialty diagnostics at PerkinElmer. His primary interest is in equipping clinical laboratories with the tools needed to meet their technical and operational goals. Prior to PerkinElmer, he held positions at Thermo Fisher Scientific, BioReference Laboratories and Advanced Analytical Technologies.

Most trade shows across the world have been canceled or converted to virtual events because of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, the worldwide exhibition industry contracted by 68% in 2020 and 2.4 million full-time jobs were affected. There is cause for concern that this trend will continue in 2021. However, with vaccinations slowing the tide of the pandemic, companies are beginning to wonder when in-person trade shows will begin again. And when they do return, will anyone attend?  

Show organizers will need to ensure the safety of their attendees to attract people and the industries they support to in-person events. This is where the COVID-19 passport comes into play. A COVID-19 passport can be tailored to meet the needs of trade shows and can be modified to meet national or regional restrictions. COVID-19 passports are designed to greatly reduce the likelihood of an outbreak occurring at an event and give attendees confidence that it is safe for them to attend the tradeshow in person again.  

What is a COVID-19 Passport?

A COVID-19 passport is a tool that can give organizers an elegant way to safeguard their event. Implementing such a concept allows the venue to scan attendees, vendors and employees quickly and easily before they gain entrance to an event, and ensure they have a recent and valid negative COVID-19 test result and/or are fully vaccinated, for example. An ideal COVID-19 passport solution should take the following critical factors into consideration: 

The Assay Used to Screen

The test being used should be validated for COVID-19 screening of asymptomatic individuals. While most assays are authorized for diagnostic testing when symptoms are present or when a person has a high chance of having been exposed to an infected person, very few tests are validated for screening. Screening is testing of individuals who are not showing any symptoms and are not suspected of being infected with COVID-19, which requires a highly sensitive RT-PCR test.

Test Timing Window 

This will depend upon many factors including the length of your trade show, the region your attendees are coming from and where you are holding the trade show. For international travelers, the U.S. Department of State requires all air passengers two years of age and over to present a negative COVID-19 test, taken within three calendar days of departure for entry into the U.S. No such regulation exists for interstate travel today. Depending on the length of the trade show, a test is recommended prior to initial entry and additional testing during the event may be recommended for longer events. Individual states may have more stringent regulations, which may be taken into consideration when deciding on a venue for your trade show.

User Interface 

Any COVID-19 passport you choose needs to incorporate an adaptable, easy-to-use, secure software solution. Because patient data is involved, it needs to be HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) and/or GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant depending on the location of your trade show. To ensure the security of your attendees’ data, the solution should also be encrypted. Test results should be transmitted to a private wallet, which allows the creation of entry passes without revealing any personal health information.

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HERE, hosting responsible meetings and caring for our communities are top priorities. Through its 'Focused on What Matters: Embracing Humanity and Protecting the Planet' philosophy, MGM Resorts commits to creating a more sustainable future, while striving to make an impact in the lives of employees, guests, and the communities in which it operates. Water Stewardship Efforts MGM Resorts understands the importance of using water efficiently, especially in the desert destination of Las Vegas. Conserving water has always been part of the mission, but MGM Resorts has expanded its ambition into water stewardship. In 2022, MGM Resorts President and CEO Bill Hornbuckle signed the CEO Water Mandate—a UN Global Compact initiative mobilizing business leaders to advance water stewardship. MGM Resorts International was the first gaming company to take this important step. MGM Resorts replaced 200,000 square feet of real grass with drought-tolerant landscaping in Las Vegas. MGM Resorts pledges to reduce water withdrawal intensity by 33% by 2025 and by 35% by 2030. From 2007-2021, use of more than 5.6 billion gallons of water was avoided because of conservation efforts. Caring for One Another MGM Resorts’ Food Donations Program collects and preserves unserved food from conventions held at MGM Resorts properties, then safely donates to food insecure people in the community. Since the program’s launch in 2016, more than 3.7 million meals toward a 2025 goal of 5 million meals have been donated into the community. Donations include: Unserved perishable prepared foods from events Perishable unprepared food from MGM Resorts’ kitchens Nonperishable food items from minibars and warehouses The collaboration with Southern Nevada’s primary food bank, Three Square, has developed the infrastructure needed to safely collect, transport, and store food from MGM Resorts properties in Las Vegas, reducing food waste while serving the community. Fostering Diversity and Inclusion To MGM Resorts, a diverse and talented workforce is essential to success. By cultivating innovative strategies that consider multiple perspectives and viewpoints, the company creates an inclusive workplace culture that benefits its employees and community. MGM Resorts takes pride in being a welcoming home for veterans, individuals with disabilities, people from diverse backgrounds, LGBTQ+ community members, and more. This commitment to inclusion is reflected in the company's recruitment and hiring practices and its social responsibility initiatives. From the workplace to the community, MGM Resorts' commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion remains unwavering, and its efforts continue to create a more equitable and sustainable world for all. MGM Resorts understands its responsibility to contribute to the social and economic progress of the communities in which it operates. HERE, we embrace humanity.